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corona get better Ireland moving to position where ‘phased reopening’ of schools possible - Professor Philip Nolan


IRELAND is “rapidly approaching” a scenario where the “phased reopening” of schools is possible, Professor Philip Nolan has said.

He said that the number of cases of Covid-19 could drop to 200 to 400 cases a day by the end of February if the current progress in tackling the virus is maintained.

Professor Philip Nolan, of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) revealed the new figures today, but warned however “that there is still a long way to go.”

"That is still a pretty high level of disease,” he said, but added: “It will allow us to do certain things perhaps."

Prof Nolan pointed out that “we are coming off a very large wave, one so large, I don’t think any of us anticipated a wave of disease that big.

"On the good news side of things, what we proved over the last four weeks, is something that we knew, that the basic public health measures reducing contacts, social distance, hygiene -they work against the new variant. You just have to work harder at it to prevent viral transmission, and we have done that.

"I am optimistic about where we will go in March, April, May and June, because I think we have learned significant lessons from December,” he told RTE’s This Week radio programme.

"If we are cautious, I think there are certain high priority, lower risk things that we can do in March, April, May, that will allow us some opening up without a significant increase in the transmission of the virus,” he said.

In relation to schools re-opening, he said that it was important to realise that schools in their entirety remained open through the October surge of cases.

“I think we are rapidly approaching the point at which a cautious and phased re-opening of education would be feasible.”

Meanwhile, he said that there was a need to resource and empower the regional public health departments to ensure that “when we do get down to much lower levels of disease, that they have the resources available to them.”

Separately, Prof Nolan also pointed out on social media today that: “We still have weeks to go to suppress the virus and get the level of infection and case numbers as low as possible.

"The number in hospital has fallen significantly, the number in ICU has plateaued, importantly the number of new admissions per day is down. Each number is an individual story of suffering and trauma; each admission you prevent is wroth the sacrifices you’ve made,” he said.

"The latest modelling data shows that, on our current trajectory, we could get to 200-400 cases per day by the end of February; let’s make it a shared objective to get there, and then take strategic steps forward,” he said.

Dr. Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, said yesterday: “We have experienced over 1,000 deaths and more than 100,000 cases in January 2021.

“The efforts by all of the population in following the basic public health advice has seen us reduce the incidence of the disease very rapidly compared to most countries in Europe.”

However, he said that: “The next few weeks need to see us maintain compliance with all of the measures that are in place so that we can get to levels of the disease that are as low as possible.”

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Online Editors