A LEADING IRISH doctor at the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for an end to Level 5 restrictions in Ireland.
He also insists that this current lockdown should be the country's very last.
Dr Mike Ryan, who is executive director of the WHO's Health Emergencies Programme, says future measures should focus on restricting the movements of sick people, rather than everyone in the country.
Speaking yesterday after picking up an international award for his work in the organisation, Dr Ryan said: "We were down, in Ireland and in Europe, to cases in the single digits of countries and less than probably 100 cases a day on certain days across the whole of Europe and the disease reestablished itself.
"We need to make sure when we come out of this phase of lockdown that we don't have to go back.
"I've said this since the beginning; if you focus on cases and contacts and you focus on clusters, you focus on restricting the movement of people who are sick or their contacts.
"Then you don't have to restrict the movement of all of society.
"So many countries have shown that if you keep the numbers low, that good strong public health measures now linked to vaccination can give us solid control of this virus.
"It will become just another virus in our lives. It will require a sustained monitoring.
"It will require evolution of vaccination. It will require lots and lots and lots of things but we can bring normality to our response and vaccines are a huge part.
"We need to do it smarter. We need to do it in a more agile way.
"And we do need to focus on getting key aspects of our society back up and running, particularly education.
"We need to prioritise that as soon as we possibly can."
Dr Ryan added that Irish people had played a big part in stopping the spread of Covid-19 by flattening the curve three times.
He said: "Ireland has done has done very well. And I mean that, not as Irish government or Irish scientists.
"I mean the Irish people have done as well as anybody else to crush the curve three times and do that actually quite quickly each time.
"We've also been more efficient than most others shutting down that transmission when it reached a certain level.
"It’s taken a huge commitment on behalf of Irish society to achieve that."