A leading epidemiologist has called for an island-wide approach to the pandemic, saying ‘you could bet your life’ an approach would be used if the disease affected animals – writes Press Association reporter James Ward.
Calls for a singular approach to how the governments of Belfast and Dublin are responding to the crisis are mounting after the two jurisdictions saw a record number of cases this week.
A record 2,312 cases were recorded on Wednesday – 1,217 in Northern Ireland and 1,095 in the Republic.
Dr Gabriel Scally, president of epidemiology and public health at the Royal Society of Medicine, denounced the “ridiculous situation” on this island, and said it was “disturbing” that a common approach was taken. was not taken.
Belfast-born Dr Scally said: ‘If it was an animal disease affecting sheep, chickens or cattle, you could bet your life that there would be an integrated North and South approach.
“And a huge amount of joint work and testing. This is not happening. It’s very, very disturbing.
He told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “From the very beginning, several people, including myself, have said that the best way to deal with this situation is on the whole island. It never happened.
“It has to be a well-integrated effort from North and South.”
Dr Scally criticized the ‘secrecy’ surrounding testing and follow-up in Northern Ireland and suggested that many cases were going undetected.
“It seems they are not doing the job of contact tracing properly and breaking these chains of transmission,” he said.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney later admitted that an all-island approach had worked in the past for animal diseases.
” He is right. Gabriel Scally speaks a lot of meaning when he’s on your program, ”he says.
But he added that Covid is “much more complicated”.
The governments of Dublin and Belfast are in regular contact, he said, as are the two chief medical officers.
He added: “On the cross-border issue, there is a discussion in terms of cross-border tracing. We now have a Covid app in the North and South talking to each other.
“We do a number of things on a cross-border basis, but we need to do more. Our government is very keen to do more – to try to have a collective approach both North and South. “
The dispute comes amid a new outright ban across the Republic on visiting other homes, with level four restrictions introduced in border counties.
They will come into effect Thursday at midnight to apply until November 10.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin said the image emerging in Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan is “very disturbing”.
He said the national case figure per 100,000 in the past 14 days was 190.7, but in Monaghan it was 360, in Donegal it was 353 and in Cavan it was 571.
“The implications for local hospitals and public health in these areas are obvious and very serious, as is the need for an immediate escalation of restrictions in these three counties,” he said.
The announcement came after the Northern Ireland executive introduced a tough new ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown for four weeks after a record 1,217 cases were reported on Wednesday.
The new restrictions will see schools close for two weeks while pubs, restaurants and non-essential stores will close for four weeks.