The Government has been accused of creating “yo-yo” policies this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Professor Bill Tormey, a Consultant at Beaumont Hospital, said there had been a series of “misjudgments” by political leaders in attempting to curb the spread of COVID-19.
He was speaking ahead of an announcement by the Taoiseach this evening that the country would be entering a month-long lockdown.
The level five restrictions will be implemented from midnight amid record cases of the virus and rising hospitalisations.
Professor Tormey told The Hard Shoulder that coronavirus was being erroneously treated as if it was the “Black Death”.
He outlined his dissatisfaction with the Government’s approach to the North, testing and closing schools.
However, on the same programme, Dr Ilona Duffy, a GP in Monaghan, said the new restrictions were “absolutely necessary”.
Professor Tormey disagreed, stating: “The first problem in the country has been that for nearly a year now the Government has had no policy or a yo-yo policy.
“This summer we could have got rid of this and we don’t even pay Stormont the courtesy or the good manners of telling them we’re going to lockdown before we lock down.”
File photo by Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS/Sipa USA
Professor Tormey said the situation with the virus in Northern Ireland has been a “disaster” which subsequently had a knock on effect on transmission in border counties.
He stated: “The problem here is, let’s not panic. 99.95% of people do not die from COVID if they get it, the problem is for people over 60 or over 70.
“I’m totally opposed to closing schools because there’s no evidence or a tiny amount of infection coming out of school kids.
“So I think it’s a serious misjudgment to close schools.
“There’s a huge amount of panic in this, fanned as if this was the Black Death, it’s not the Black Death, it’s even less bad than the Spanish Flu.
Professor Tormey said that if Ireland was serious about eliminating COVID, testing at airports would have been introduced last summer.
“It was also blatantly obvious that if the weather was bad in the middle of winter, any respiratory virus is going to explode,” he added.
Dr Duffy said projections showed the rise in cases around the festive season was expected, albeit a bit sooner than anticipated.
On the latest lockdown, she added: “The whole aim of this is to keep the levels low while we wait on the vaccination programme to be rolled out and therefore not only protect people from COVID but to protect the hospital and community services that people need.”
Dr Duffy explained that Ireland doesn’t want to ever be in a situation similar to that of other countries such as Italy during the first wave.
“You look at Italy who had the most awful first wave and are now in their third wave and back again to square one where they don’t have enough ICU beds, people are dying, people are in body bags being stored in places because they can’t bury them fast enough,” she said.
“We don’t want to see that and we won’t see that because decisions are being made and while they might be really difficult, they are necessary to protect us from COVID and to safeguard all the services.”