Ireland has strategy to ‘break the chains’ of coronavirus - WHO’s Mike Ryan

‘I’m proud to be an Irishman watching the way communities have acted’ head of emergencies programme says

Ireland is doing a good job in setting out the kind of strategy required to “break the chains” of coronavirus, the head of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) emergencies programme has said.

Dr Mike Ryan warned that while Europe may soon see a peak in the spread of the disease, it was on the march across the world.

“We can reach control of this virus. We may not get rid of it completely but we can reach a point where we can control the virus and with it we can get our economies and social systems back on track,” he said.

“In order for that to happen we have to use the time now that lockdowns are providing to put in place those comprehensive strategies and I think Ireland is doing a pretty good job at that right now.”

He was speaking on Thursday as global confirmed cases tipped the one million mark and deaths surpassed 50,000.

"For other countries it's still very much beginning...the potential for this disease in vulnerable populations, in Africa, in refugees, in other vulnerable people around the world [is worrying]," he told RTE News.

In terms of the behaviour of the virus, he said it was stable - not mutating or altering - and spreading systematically.

“It’s spreading along those chains of transmission between people. We have got to break the chain; we know we can break these chains,” he said.

“The virus is very efficient at spreading and it may stay ahead of us but it is way too far ahead of us now. We have got to even up the stakes here and we have got to break the chains of transmission.”

He said widespread public movement restriction was a desperate move in order to suppress infection and robust public health measures such as case detection, contact tracing, and isolation was required to control it, citing more successful efforts in Asian countries.

Dr Ryan also noted the disease can be very severe in younger age groups as well as older, more vulnerable people.

“I really would like to commend the people in Ireland, the communities in Ireland, who have really taken on board this,” he said.

“They are looking after themselves, they are looking after each other; I’m proud to be an Irishman watching the way in which communities in Ireland have embraced, listened and acted to protect themselves and protect others.”