MICHEAL MARTIN has outlined why Ireland could never take the “zero Covid” approach that has proven so effective in New Zealand.
A “zero Covid” strategy would see Ireland working towards completing eliminating all community transmission of the coronavirus with restrictions lifting and life returning to normal as a result.
Schools and workplaces would reopen while mass gatherings would also be allowed, provided strict controls remain in place to prevent any virus from re-entering the community.
These include quarantine rules for any travellers coming into the country.
New Zealand has emerged as the flag-bearers for such an approach with images and videos circulating on social media showing how life has almost returned to normal.
Their success has brought intense scrutiny on Ireland’s approach to combating the pandemic.
Ireland about 3.8 times smaller than New Zealand and has a comparatively similar population of roughly 4.9 million people.
However, the Taoiseach believes such an approach would be impossible in Ireland.
“The public health advice we’ve received has always been to the effect that zero Covid is a promise you could give but that you might never fulfil and we are not New Zealand in geography terms,” he told The Cork Echo.
According to Martin, that kind of approach would also leave Ireland “open to the potential of the disease coming back in again because of our geography.”
The Taoiseach warned that, in reality, the only way Ireland could realistically achieve a “Zero Covid” strategy would be through a system of “permanent lockdown."
Instead, he is confident that the suppression approach taken so far will ultimately see Ireland through thanks to the emergence of more treatments and vaccines.
“We’re going for prolonged suppression of the virus now,” he said.
“We have vaccines now which will help to give us choices in time.”