THE CORONAVIRUS CRISIS could be nearing its end in Ireland, according to a leading Irish immunologist.
Professor Luke O'Neill of Trinity College Dublin says that he believes Ireland is "tantalisingly close" to the end of the fight with Covid-19.
Speaking with Newstalk's Pat Kenny this week, Prof O'Neill said that he believed the Republic of Ireland would soon eliminate the virus, but that an open border with the north, and the reopening of pubs could scupper the chances of completely eradicating the disease.
"We're almost there, it is tantalisingly close that we are going to nearly get elimination in Ireland. It is the question of the all-Ireland policy, that travel is the big bugbear, isn't it," he said.
"In other words, we can be somewhat optimistic, but again, vigilance - and everybody has to keep doing the same thing. If we keep doing what we are doing we'll keep this thing at the level it should be.
"The next issue is going to be the dreaded pubs again, on August 10, what do we do then?"
Prof O'Neill added that while the Republic has just 15 countries on its official 'green list' there are 59 for people in north, which presents a huge problem given the open borders.
Despite this, he insisted that Ireland was "in a great position" with regard to the reopening of its schools, and that if the Covid-19 situation stays as it is for the next few weeks "then schools could reopen without much hassle".
"If it was today, you could open them, the numbers are very good," he said.
"So let's hope this just continues for the next few weeks and beyond into the autumn as well.
"If the numbers begin to go up then you can't open the schools or you have to re-close them.
"Can you imagine if a school is a source of an outbreak in Ireland? That would cause consternation. So that has got to be avoided at all costs."