A two to three week delay on the further easing of restrictions would make a “very substantial difference” in preventing a surge of the Delta variant and another lockdown in Ireland, a Cork GP and member of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has said.
Dr Mary Favier, a former president of the Irish College of General Practitioners, has warned that if the number of cases of the Delta variant continues to rise, difficult decisions will have to be made by the Government next week.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland Dr Favier expressed some concern about an “uptick” in Covid case numbers.
“Vaccination is the answer, it’s the push back against infection and we need more time to vaccinate,” she said.
Dr Favier said the vaccination programme is working “very well” but added that there are “some gaps”.
“At this time, it’s all about getting vaccines in arms and an additional two or three weeks would make a very substantial difference,” she said.
Dr Favier said she believes her views would be shared by many healthcare professionals.
“I think the feeling on the ground, and this would be the feeling of many General Practitioners, is vaccination saves lives.
“If it’s two to three more weeks so that we can prevent ever having our health service in the same circumstance as it was in January or ever having that number of deaths again or ever going into another lockdown I think the sentiment out there would be that we would delay, very strategically.”
Dr Favier added that Government face a “hard decision”.
She said the Covid figures will be reviewed next week and that NPHET may meet with the Cabinet on Wednesday rather than their usual Thursday meeting, if requested.
Earlier this week, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) at the Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan said data showed a "concerning increase in transmission of the Delta variant in Ireland".
“Delta accounts for up to 20% of cases reported in the last week,” he said.
On Wednesday, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar admitted the rise in Covid-19 variant cases is "the dark cloud on the horizon" for the planned easing of restrictions next month.
Meanwhile, the Restaurants Association of Ireland has warned that any delay in reopening indoor hospitality will have “a catastrophic economic effect” on restaurants, pubs and cafés.
The Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) has said that businesses are currently in the planning stages for the return of indoor dining with regards to restocking, rostering and preparing to reopen on 5 July.
“A last minute, late postponement will have financial impact in terms of loss of stock,” they said.