Dr Ronan Glynn says six more weeks of strict restrictions needed to prevent fourth wave
He said the virus is 'much more transmissible' than this time last year.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has said that six more weeks of strict restrictions on social interactions may be necessary to prevent a fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Health Committee on Tuesday he said that Ireland is at 'considerable risk' of a rapid increase in cases if current lockdown restrictions are eased too quickly.
Dr Glynn added that the virus is 'much more transmissible' than during the first wave of the virus last year, and urged people to limit their social contact in the coming weeks.
"All of this means that we can be hopeful of a return to better and more normal times," Dr Glynn said.
"However, while significant progress is being made in controlling the disease and in rolling out vaccines, we still have a high level of infection, we are dealing with a much more transmissible virus than last year, and the absolute number of people fully protected through vaccination remains low.
"This means that there remains a considerable risk that Ireland will experience a further wave of infection if public health restrictions are eased too quickly.
"However, modeling has shown that a further wave of infection can be substantially mitigated if levels of social contact across the population remain largely unchanged over the next 6 weeks."
Dr Glynn said that while significant progress has been made with Ireland's vaccination programme, the risk of a rise in cases will remain high until 'vaccination can offer a widespread population level of protection.'
He continued: "NPHET advice to Government continues to recommend a cautious approach and that any further easing of measures should be gradual and phased and should allow adequate time between phases to assess the impact.
"Our priorities also remain the same; to protect the most vulnerable, to facilitate the safe return of in-school education and childcare services, and to resume non-Covid health and social care.
"The NPHET will continue to monitor the epidemiological situation closely over the coming weeks to assess the impact of the reopening of priority services and those measures that have been eased. NPHET and the Government will consider the position again at the beginning of May."