A top medical expert has said that the COVID-19 pandemic is “the biggest global healthcare crisis that we will encounter in our lifetime” and strongly urged the government to do more to address the crisis. 

Dr Carmen Regan, a maternal medicine Specialist, told Claire Byrne Live on RTE that Ireland “will be Italy if we do what the government is doing, which is nothing apart from contact tracing, turning up and telling us ‘another case came from Italy.”

“This is the biggest global healthcare crisis that we will encounter in our lifetime. It’s serious, it’s here, and it’s getting worse,” she warned.

“And I think that the reason why it is so serious is that it is a virus that can travel rapidly and has a high rate of morbidity and mortality. And when we see cases emerge, the reason why we were so concerned about where the cases came from was that once you start to see case-to-case transmission within a community, it means that the virus is here. It’s probably been here for a while,” she said.

She warned that the government needed to be proactive. “When you see your first death from a virus – from the coronavirus – you’re probably a month in. And the natural course of this epidemic is that in about 8 weeks we will be in the epidemic where Italy is. But if you look at Italy, Italy, on the 29th of January, had its first case. Look at the figures for Italy now. We will be Italy if we do what the government is doing, which is nothing apart from contact tracing, turning up and telling us ‘another case came from Italy’.”.

“We now have case-to-case transmission. We need to be proactive,” she urged.

The government has now cancelled St Patrick’s Day parades, but has not restricted travel or closed schools as has happened elsewhere.

In Italy, the government has announced a nationwide lockdown as the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has shot up to more than 9,000 from 230 a fortnight ago. All schools and universities are closed, all sporting events suspended.

The HSE has released the following video for information.