Any easing of Covid-19 restrictions should be gradual and completed in accordance with levels of the virus in the community rather than adhering to a timetable, Irishman Dr Mike Ryan has said.
Dr Ryan, the executive director of the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s health emergency programme, said that vaccination coverage in Ireland was good — but it was not perfect.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Dr Ryan said society needed to reopen but warned against “a slavish plan to some timetable”.
“The Delta strain will bring more transmission and there are still vulnerable people. What you don't want to do is ignite another wave of cases, but at the same time, society needs to open up,” he said.
“It's just making sure that that plan is measured against what the virus is doing, not against a slavish plan to some timetable. That would be my concern.
“The plan should be mediated by what's actually happening in the community, not by some calendar drawn up for reopening.”
'Good job a few times'
Dr Ryan said Ireland had done “a very good job a few times” and had “really cracked the curve,” but he warned that it would be hard to sustain that level.
Health experts did not yet completely understand the Delta strain and did not know where it was going, so there remained a need to be cautious and careful, he said.
There had been an increase of the variant in Europe by 33 per cent in the last week alone, he said.
“The virus is still there. It will cause problems. We just need to try and make sure that we avoid the worst of those problems and that we open up extremely carefully so we don't have to go backwards.”