Deputy Mattie McGrath will be among party leaders and Dáil  groups to be briefed on the State’s approach to Covid-19 by the government and NPHET at 4pm today.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, the Tipperary Independent told Gript.ie that the government and NPHET would have to “reflect on the wisdom” of the current restrictions in light of a WHO Special Envoy’s advice that lockdowns not be used as “a primary control method” in tackling the outbreak.

“The timing of the Special Envoy’s statement is very appropriate, and hopefully it won’t be dismissed or discounted as NPHET and the government weigh up the current situation,” McGrath said.

“The effects of the second lockdown have been catastrophic for so many small businesses, and pushed more people into very difficult financial problems. On top of that, the country’s mental health crisis has worsened enormously as people deal with the loneliness and fear of this so-called ‘new normal’.”

Dr. David Nabarro, the WHO’s Special Envoy on Covid-19, appears to have reversed previous World Health Organization advice that lockdowns be used to counteract the spread of Covid-19, a position that is likely to cause controversy among political leaders.

“The reality is that Dr. Nabarro might have been sacked for his comments if he was working for the HSE, as other doctors contradicting the government continue to come under fire, but now our political leaders will have to answer the very legitimate points being made by the organization they have so far followed so closely.”

“I hope it will put paid to any notions of introducing an even harder lockdown, or ‘circuit-breaker’, as the Tánaiste says,” McGrath added.

Talking to the Spectator’s Andrew Neil on Friday, Dr. Nabarro urged world leaders to stop using lockdown as a “primary control method” and warned that lockdowns would increase poverty and hit those most disadvantaged hardest – with a doubling of child malnutrition possible.

Dr David Nabarro, who is also professor of Global Health at Imperial College London, called on countries to work together to find better ways of dealing with the virus.

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr. Nabarro told the Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

He said that countries needed to consider the global impact of national lockdowns, explaining that poorer economies were being hardest hit – and world poverty expected to double.

“Just look at what’s happened to the tourism industry in the Caribbean, for example, or in the Pacific because people aren’t taking their holidays,” he said.

“Look what’s happened to smallholder farmers all over the world. … Look what’s happening to poverty levels. It seems that we may well have a doubling of world poverty by next year. We may well have at least a doubling of child malnutrition.”

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” Dr. Nabarro said.

“And so, we really do appeal to all world leaders: stop using lockdown as your primary control method. Develop better systems for doing it. Work together and learn from each other,” he added.