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New 'weather warning' style colour-code system to help plot a path through stages of pandemic


Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Julien Behal Photography/PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Julien Behal Photography/PA

Taoiseach Micheál Martin. Photo: Julien Behal Photography/PA

A new colour-coded system for identifying different stages of Covid-19 outbreaks is being developed by public health experts.

The system for dealing with the virus over the coming months would have four phases - blue, yellow, orange and red.

Status blue would mean a vaccine or treatment had been found, while yellow would mean the rate of infection is stable and we can live with the virus.

In the yellow phase, most businesses would be open, as would schools.

Orange would signify local outbreaks in communities, rather than in specific settings, as is the case in the midland counties currently under lockdown.

An orange status outbreak would involve restrictions similar to those imposed on the people of Kildare, Offaly and Laois.

A status red outbreak would send the country back into lockdown. But another lockdown may not be as severe as the last quarantine, due to a better understanding of how the virus spreads.

The framework is being developed by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

Speaking about the new system on Morning Ireland, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said; "NPHET’s proposal essentially is a colour-coded system which we would all recognise and be familiar with from weather warnings.

"The idea is we have a yellow level which is where we could be at now in most of the country - but outside of the three counties obviously where there’s restrictions in place," he explained.

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“There would be an orange level - which would be some version of what Laois, Offaly and Kildare have in place right now - a red level which would be across the whole country and which we have become very accustomed to, which is very much what the people of Auckland are dealing with at the moment, and then blue," he said.

“Blue is the colour of vacccines in the medical world. And the idea of blue is we wouldn’t be fully clear of this obviously until we have a vaccine and we can get back to our lives. "

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has announced the Government is drafting a new long-term plan for living with the Covid-19.

Speaking after a meeting of the Cabinet sub-committee on Covid-19, Mr Martin said the plan was aimed at finding a way of keeping society opening while dealing with spikes in coronavirus cases.

"The Cabinet committee will meet again next week with a view to having an initial discussion on the medium-term plan to take us through Covid for the next six months to nine months," the Taoiseach said.

"We've opened up to a considerable degree of our economy and our society. Obviously, like other countries, there's been an increase in numbers so we've got to look and plan ahead in terms of potential scenarios that might emerge, but also how we maintain that level of economic activity," he added.

The plan will be developed in line with other EU countries where people are learning to live with the virus.

In some countries, schools and pubs have reopened and Covid-19 outbreaks are contained and traced.

Government sources insisted Ireland would not be seeking to follow the example of New Zealand where authorities have enforced strict restrictions aimed at eradicating the virus.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden announced a partial shutdown of Auckland yesterday after the discovery of four new cases among the members of one family.

In Dublin, it was also agreed that the Government will announce new financial supports before the end of the week for businesses affected by the localised lockdowns in Kildare, Offaly and Laois.

The Taoiseach said Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath would draft supports for businesses affected by the midlands lockdown.

Mr Martin said he was concerned about the spike in cases in the midlands and the overall increase in new cases across the country.

However, he said acting chief medical officer Ronan Glynn believed community transmission of the virus remained stable.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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