'Immediate and decisive action' needed if Ireland is to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 experts say

'Immediate and decisive action' needed if Ireland is to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 experts say

A group of experts in science and medicine have said the Government must take "immediate and decisive action" to eliminate Covid-19 in Ireland or risk paying a "very heavy price". Picture: Denis Minihane.

In a statement released today, the group said Ireland is now facing "the strong likelihood of an imminent second wave" as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases are rising.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) reported 32 confirmed cases of Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the total number of cases to 25,670. No new deaths were reported.

In their statement today, the expert group flagged their concerns about the number of younger people getting diagnosed with Covid-19 who are "more likely to silently carry and transmit the virus".

The expert group is calling for a 'Zero Covid Island'.

"The aim of Zero Covid Island is to reduce Covid incidence across the Island of Ireland to zero, so that we can safely open up as much of our society and economy as possible," they said.

"Relaxing restrictions before we get to a Zero-Covid island risks a second wave, as seen in Israel, Serbia, Australia and Japan. 

"Unless we take immediate and decisive action, we will pay a very heavy price, with many people getting sick, being admitted to ICU and dying," the group warned. 

They also flagged the crushing economic impact a second wave could have.

The group indicated some measures they believe need to be taken to try and achieve a Zero Covid Island.

One of the measures suggested is a 'Green Zone strategy', with local relaxation of restrictions, wherever there is no community transmission, to allow return to near normal conditions in those areas.

"In those areas where community transmission continues we need to patiently maintain and enhance the hygiene, social distancing and restrictions that have taken us so far already," the group said.

They added that the wearing of masks should be normalised and legally enforced, indoors in public spaces and outdoors in crowds.

They have also called for safe travel bridges to other countries or jurisdictions that would have similar Zero-Covid strategies.

Among the signatories on the statement are Dr Claire Buckley, of UCC’s School of Public Health, Prof Gerry Killeen, AXA Research Chair in Applied Pathogen Ecology, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences and Environmental Research Institute, UCC and Ivan Perry, Professor of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health at UCC.

In total there are 15 signatories, including some experts from abroad.

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