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'We could be living with Coronavirus for two years' says Health Minister

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Health Minister Stephen Donnelly (PA)

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly (PA)

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly (PA)

People in Ireland could be living with Coronavirus for the next two years before a vaccine is found.  

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has issued a warning there is no short-term solution to the current crisis and a more over-arching approach needs to be adopted.

“Now the reality is, we could be looking at this for nine months, we could be looking at it for two years, we don’t know; it really depends on when a vaccine comes through,” he said.

“The role the Government has to play is that we have to be fully open and transparent and people have all the information they can get, that people understand in areas like Laois, Offaly and Kildare, when these restrictions are being put in place as quickly as possible, it’s to save lives.”

He told RTE’s Morning Ireland that in spite of these very bit clusters which are moving on quickly, the level community transmission, remains low.

He also admitted that while not very pleasant in the short-term, more localised lockdowns are “entirely possible” in the future. They were necessary to save lives, protect those in nursing homes and protect vulnerable people in the community.

“What Laois, Offaly and Kildare have shown is just how quickly this virus can spread and the need for us to be able to react to it quickly. So if we hadn’t reacted as quickly as we had, we wouldn’t have seen the scale of this. It would have seeped into the community very quickly.

“We could have been right back to the start again, having to impose really strict measures right across the country.”

He also admitted that the delays in getting test results back was due to the entire operation being scaled back during the period when the rate of new cases was low.

He said the turnaround times of 3.1 days were “pretty good.”

“Looking very closely at what happened in the three counties, there have been one or two issues which have been identified. We were down to about 20 positive tests a day and as a result of that, the operation was scaled back. The number of people we had (was) reduced, over a really short period of time,” he said.

“When the challenge was there, the teams got onto the ground very quickly.”

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