Ireland lifted Covid restrictions ‘brutally,’ says WHO

Ireland’s current handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been criticised by the World Health Organisation
Ireland lifted Covid restrictions ‘brutally,’ says WHO

Ireland’s current handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been criticised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which said the country had lifted restrictions “brutally” as cases hit a near-record.

The easing of restrictions combined with the transmissibility of the BA2 sub-variant of Omicron has led to a renewed surge in cases, according to the WHO.

Ireland recorded 23,702 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, with case numbers reaching heights seen just once before during a previous wave of the Omicron variant.

WHO regional director Hans Kluge said 18 out of 53 countries in Europe had seen increasing case numbers in the past week.

“The countries where we see in particular an increase are the United Kingdom, Ireland, Greece, Cyprus, France, Italy and Germany,” he said.

“Those countries are lifting the restrictions brutally - from too much, to too few.”

A WHO spokesperson said on Friday that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic was a long way off, citing a rise in cases in its latest weekly data.

We are definitely in the middle of the pandemic

The UN health agency has previously said that the acute phase of the pandemic could end this year but it would depend on how quickly the world meets its target to vaccinate 70 per cent of the population in each country, among other factors.

Asked by a journalist at a Geneva media briefing about the timing of the pandemic's end, Margaret Harris said it was "far from over". "We are definitely in the middle of the pandemic," she added.

After more than a month of decline, Covid-19 cases started to increase around the world last week, the WHO said, with lockdowns in Asia and China's Jilin province battling to contain an outbreak.

A combination of factors was causing the increases, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant and its cousin the BA2 sub-variant, and the lifting of public health and social measures, the WHO said.

-Additional reporting by Reuters.

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