Public behaviour needs to change now while the new Covid sub variant BA2 is reaching its peak, immunology expert Professor Christine Loscher has warned.
The public responds well when mitigation measures are mandatory, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show. If people are just “advised” they will not necessarily do so.
Prof Loscher pointed out that there is a threefold reason for the current surge – firstly, the new BA2 sub variant is three times more transmissible “once it gets into a household it is really difficult to escape it”.
Secondly now that restrictions had been lifted there were more opportunities for the virus to spread and people were not wearing masks.
Thirdly people were congregating indoors which was helping the surge. People seemed to think that other than on public transport it was not necessary to wear masks, she said.
“The message needs to be altered.” The advice should be that masks should be worn indoors at all times, she said.
The issue now was not the severity of the symptoms of the BA2 variant, the sheer volume of cases was having an impact on the hospital system, she warned.
“Now it’s really important to get the message across.”
Prof Loscher said that the current surge would pass as it had done in other European countries, but behaviour needed to change now while the virus was “peaking”.
The percentage of Covid cases aged over 55 was also a cause for concern, she said.
“We should be doing everything we can to reduce transmission.”