Glynn warns small number of super spreader events would ‘get us into trouble’

Chief medical officer tells TDs, Senators he hopes there will be ‘very open and good summer’

Glynn warns small number of super spreader events would ‘get us into trouble’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Glynn warns small number of super spreader events would ‘get us into trouble’. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

A small number of “super spreader” Covid-19 events would be enough to “get us into trouble”, acting chief medical officer Ronan Glynn has warned.

He made the remarks as he told the Oireachtas Committee on Health that the possibility or future lockdowns cannot be excluded.

During the meeting Mr Glynn also expressed the hope that “we’ll have a very open and good summer” in Ireland and he suggested that people who have and haven’t been vaccinated could have the same freedoms if the target of 80 per cent of adults being inoculated by the end of June can be met.

Fine Gael TD Bernard Durkan asked if he was satisfied the necessary measures are in place to curtail the virus without “bringing the country to a halt again”.

Mr Glynn said the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) can’t exclude the possibility of another lockdown but is not predicting one.

He said: “We do not want to go backwards with these measures. We’ll have to respond robustly if we see an issue.”

He said the the focus needs to be kept on outdoor activities in May and June and to ensure any indoor activities don’t facilitate super spreader events.

Mr Glynn said this is because “given the incidence that we have at the moment it would only require a small number of super spreader events, and particularly a super spreader event with a variant, to get us into trouble.”

Earlier he told the committee that there has now been 46 cases of the new variant first reported in South Africa detected in Ireland.

He said Nphet is worried about the possibility that the level of variants here could increase and the potential impact on the effectiveness of vaccines and plans to ease Covid-19 restrictions.

He said Ireland is currently “in a very good position” and is the third best in Europe by incidence rate and he added: “I’m hopeful we can stay there.”

Mr Glynn told TDs and Senators that he would not get into specifics on what measures may or may not be eased in the coming months.

He said the Government has already set out areas it wants to look at when the situation is reviewed at the end of the month listing the return of click and collect for non-essential retailers and outdoor businesses.

Position

He said he hopes Nphet will be in a position at the end of the month to set out a broad approach to the six to eight weeks from May and into July.

Speaking before the news of delayed delivery of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to Europe, Mr Glynn said he hopes the change of plans for the use of the Astra Zeneca vaccine will have a “minimal” impact on the rollout.

Mr Glynn said that if the target of 80 per cent of adults being vaccinated by the end of June can be met and the virus is under control “I would hope that we would see a far greater level of society open than where we are at this point”.

He also said that he hopes at that point there won’t be an “undue need” to differentiate between what people who have and have not been vaccinated at that point can do.

Clare TD Cathal Crowe asked about the prospect of holidays abroad this summer and Mr Glynn said there’s too much uncertainly about the situation in Europe to offer certainty on this.

He said: “I hope that we’ll have a very open and very good summer in this country this year... that the focus will be on the hospitality sector and on travel within this country keeping us all safe and keeping the disease under control.”