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P
Pa
May 22, 2020

Taoiseach says Irish community transmission suppressed

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P
Pa
May 22, 2020

DUBLIN: The transmission of Covid-19 in the community has been effectively suppressed, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

Varadkar has defended the country’s “slow and steady” approach to easing the lockdown. Speaking in the Dail on Thursday, he said the impact of the restrictions on the reproductive rate will not be known until the first week in June.

He welcomed the fact that the number of new coronavirus cases has been below 100 for the past five days in a row. “We take some comfort in the fact that the trend is going in the right direction – transmission in the community has been effectively suppressed.

“We need to stay vigilant, we really won’t know until the first week of June whether the easing of the restrictions has increased the reproduction number, or to what extent.”

He said the government will make a decision on whether the country can move to phase two on Friday, June 5, four days before the roadmap target date of June 9.

“I know that some other countries are opening faster, but every country’s circumstances are different, we stand over the slow and steady approach.”

Senior government official Liz Canavan warned that businesses that have reopened ahead of the government’s planned roadmap risk slowing down the progress the country has made.

Her comments came following concerns that a number of businesses that were not scheduled to open for another number of weeks have already reopened.

Canavan said she understood the temptation to reopen, however, she warned that even if businesses are applying Government-enforced return-to-work safety protocols, they cannot open.

“This is phase one, it’s a small step. “The concern is not just around the safety of particular settings, it’s also about the volume of people moving about,” she said.

“Those businesses who say they can open safely or see a loophole in the health regulations are not respecting the spirit of the approach that is set out in the roadmap.

“They risk slowing down the progress for everyone else. So I am appealing to businesses to take the responsible approach.” Earlier, Varadkar told Newstalk FM he would like to accelerate the re-opening of the country.