‘Potentially dangerous time’ as Covid case numbers drop, warns WHO envoy

‘We’re not ready’ for international travel despite ongoing vaccinations, says Dr David Nabarro

The ‘new normal’ would have to be respect for the virus, but not to go backward into lockdown, said Dr David Nabarro. Photograph: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty

The ‘new normal’ would have to be respect for the virus, but not to go backward into lockdown, said Dr David Nabarro. Photograph: Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty

 

The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) special envoy on Covid-19 has warned that this is a “difficult and potentially dangerous time” as case numbers are dropping and people “let up” from taking protective measures.

Dr David Nabarro said it is important that people continue to practice personal protection to avoid going back into lockdown.

Responding to results of a poll in The Irish Times that indicated strong support for reopening society and the economy, Dr Nabarro said society needed to be respectful of the virus and maintain precautions.

The “new normal” would have to be respect for the virus, but not to go backward into lockdown, he told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Friday .

Dr Nabarro also said that vaccine certificates were an excellent idea and that everyone should know what vaccine they had been given, the batch number and manufacturer “just in case they bump up against a variant”.

However, he did not think having a vaccine passport should allow people to travel. “We’re not ready for that yet,” he said.

Dr Nabarro said not enough people had been vaccinated yet to allow such travel. “We’re not at that point yet. I don’t think it will come in three months,” he added.

Variant identification

Dr Nabarro also paid tribute to Irish health authorities for identifying the variants that had arrived into the country.

The country could not be closed forever, people needed to travel into and out of the country, he said. The capacity to “pick up the emergence of variants” were necessary to quickly identify any spikes and outbreaks.

Responding to reports about possible bi-lateral travel agreements between countries, Dr Nabarro cautioned that people should wait before making any holiday plans.

In a few more weeks there would be much more clarity about travel during the summer months, he said. Dr Nabarro said he was hopeful there would be more opportunities to travel within the European Union this summer.

He said while he was nervous, he was also hopeful. “I have my fingers crossed like everybody else,” he said.

The latest HSE Covid-19 vaccine figures show that up until Tuesday, 238,841 people had received a first dose and 134,439 a second dose.

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