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'Next six weeks are critical for Ireland', says WHO official

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Mike Ryan (AFP via Getty Images)

Mike Ryan (AFP via Getty Images)

Mike Ryan (AFP via Getty Images)

Ireland failed to capitalise on the success of its first lockdown, and the next six weeks will be critical, says World Health Organisation (WHO) official Dr Mike Ryan.

The Irish-born WHO executive said we needed to create more positive language around Covid and spend less time "wagging the finger at young people and telling them what not to do".

"People are sick of being told what not to do. We are losing our youth as a result," he said.

Dr Ryan has previously been outspoken about the impact of lockdowns, saying countries cannot simply keep shutting down their societies to defeat coronavirus.

He also remarked that "only in Ireland could you have Level 3 and a bit" when discussing the Government's Living with Covid plan.

For him, people learning to take personal responsibility is going to be extremely important in the battle against Covid-19 going forward.

"Just because your neighbour's an idiot, doesn't mean you have to be an idiot," he said. "If you go back to spring and early summer, Ireland didn't do a bad job at all.

"The issue is the disease has crept back in and we all seem to have been taken by surprise, and I don't necessarily think we should have been taken by surprise."

Mr Ryan was speaking at the 40th annual MacGill Summer School, which is this year taking place online due to the pandemic.

While the next wave is going to be "very difficult", Dr Ryan said "there is hope".

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"We've got 12 good vaccine trials. We've never seen that many candidates enter a phase-three trial so quickly."

He described Covid-19 as a "wake-up call for our health systems".

When asked by Dr Rhona O'Mahony about his new-found fame, he said "it's very strange".

"You live most of your life in relative obscurity and all of a sudden become a minor celebrity.

"My kids and my family are in Ireland. I've only seen them twice this year. I'm working 14-hour days and going to bed."

He praised his wife for the "huge sacrifice" she had made.

"My family has suffered. The real heroes in this are not the ones on TV, it's the people you don't see behind the masks and goggles. The heroes are walking amongst you."

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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