| 7.9°C Dublin
Dr David Nabarro, Special Envoy with the World Health Organisation.
The Covid-19 pandemic is nowhere near over and people should not be too angry or surprised if restrictions return in the future, Dr David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said.
Dr Nabarro said there’s an “urgent” effort in many countries to figure out how far governments can go in restoring life to pre-pandemic normality without “moving too quickly and ending up with an unexpected surge of cases.”
“The big question for the government is how quickly do you go about doing this? The change in Ireland is likely to be phased,” Dr Nabarro told Bryan Dobson on RTÉ News At One.
Another 11,161 new Covid cases were reported in Ireland on Friday, with 892 people in hospital with Covid and 88 in ICU. PCR tests identified 6,597 of today's cases with another 4,564 found through home antigen tests registered on the HSE portal.
Today’s figures compare with 10,571 new cases on Thursday, when there were 896 in hospital, 90 of whom were in ICU, but it is still far below the record 26,000 cases reported three weeks ago.
The WHO envoy said the National Public Health Emergency Team’s (Nphet) advice to retain mask-wearing in retail and public transport settings “makes me rather happy” as he said the virus is still widely circulating around the world and still causing quite a lot of illness.
Dr Nabarro urged people not to use the word mild when it comes to Omicron.
“What mild means to people [in terms of disease] is that it’s just not important and nobody at the WHO is taking that position.
“In populations like Ireland with high degrees of immunity due to prior infection or vaccination, the effects are less severe than in countries with less protection..but the virus is still a very dangerous virus.
“To the people of Ireland, to the officials in government.. I cannot say to them that this is a mild disease, it’s a worrisome disease, still worrisome with Omicron.
Get ahead of the day with the morning headlines at 7.30am and Fionnán Sheahan's exclusive take on the day's news every afternoon, with our free daily newsletter.
This field is required
“You’ve done so much in Ireland for so long, don’t endanger it by going too far, too quickly,” Dr Nabarro said.
Dr Nabarro said that viruses tend to trend towards being less virulent or severe over time but that it’s not always guaranteed and that the road to this “can be bumpy”.
He said people should not be “hopping mad” if restrictions are reintroduced some time in the future.
“You don’t have a nice, neat, smooth trajectory from where we are now to where we hope to be when the pandemic is over. It will be bumpy, it will be difficult and we must expect surprises.
“We must even suspect some tricky mutations of Omicron coming in the future. What I’m trying to convey is being ready for reversals and not being hopping mad when asked to restrict your movements in a particular place when there’s been an unexpected surge,” Dr Nabarro said.
A Mediahuis Website © Independent.ie