Credit: Gript

WHO: Ireland will need regional restrictions due to variant

Demonstrator at a recent protest in Dublin against government lockdown

The WHO’s Special Envoy on Covid-19 Dr. David Nabarro has said Irish people will need to restrict their movements at some point in the “foreseeable future”. 

With 59 cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 recorded in Ireland so far, a WHO official has said Ireland will need to re-introduce restrictions on movement and arrange a wider system of testing at some point.

Dr. David Nabarro made the comments as Ireland emerges from a prolonged lockdown with the fifth lowest 14-day incidence rate in the EU and no deaths due to Covid-19 reported yesterday.

Warning that the variant will inevitably spread in Ireland, Dr. Nabarro said “there are going to be movement restrictions, at least in the foreseeable future.”

“They will be localised but I don’t think they will be nationwide movement restrictions unless Ireland is very, very unlucky,” he claimed.

The news comes as Pfizer/BioNTech announced its vaccine is estimated to be 75% effective against the Indian variant, in a similar efficacy rate to that recorded against the South African variant.

The Irish government this week agreed to draft legislation extending the pandemic powers given to authorities imposing lockdown restrictions.

The decision leaves open the possibility that Ireland will return to a state of lockdown in the autumn, with the legislation set to expire on November 9.

A government spokesman called the measure a “failsafe” decision taken in the event that Gardaí are required to enforce restrictions on the country again.

“It was very much that these were very much just to have in place as a failsafe, just as a precautionary measure…. because they were due to lapse on June 9th it was seen as prudent to have legislation in place,” he said.

Hotels and guest houses are set to open on June 2, in what tourism chiefs hope will spark a revival of the industry, but no date has been set so far to allow restaurants, pubs and cafés to offer indoor services.

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