The Acting Chief Medical Officer has said of the Government's Living with Covid-19 plan that "it's unfortunate that the plan was published at a time at which the trajectory of the virus is changing in this country".
Speaking at the Global Ireland 2020 Summit from Dublin, Dr Ronan Glynn said the authorities "tried to be more nuanced and we try to be as proportionate as possible in the measures" but as part of that "it does lead to confusion".
Dr Glynn said he believes the messaging is very clear.
He said: "We don't want you to mix with any more than one other household, quite simply, now is not the time for wet bars to open in Dublin and equally if possible, and this is the nuance, this is the proportionality, we're asking people if possible to avoid travel outside of Dublin for the coming couple of weeks."
Dr Glynn said the single biggest thing that can be done to protect the health system over the coming months is to keep Covid-19 under control.
He said he is really conscious the effects of what has happened over the past six months has had on our health system, and crucially on those who need to use our health services.
Dr Glynn said: "[The] single biggest threat to our screening services, to people's individual mental health and well-being, to our mental health services and access to our hospital services, is Covid getting out of control."
He said the major challenge we have is to balance both and to keep both elements of this health service responsible.
The Acting Chief Medical Officer has said 'it's unfortunate' that the roadmap for dealing with Covid-19 was published at a time at which the trajectory of the virus is changing in this country | Follow live updates: https://t.co/4V7UP3doS8 pic.twitter.com/pRmnqMvZ04— RTÉ News (@rtenews) September 16, 2020
The Executive Director of the World Health Organization's Health Emergencies Programme, meanwhile, said "the coronavirus still has the potential to spread exponentially, if it's allowed to".
Also speaking at the Global Ireland 2020 Summit, Dr Mike Ryan said the situation worldwide is "very variable, the virus is still moving and the virus is still exploiting all of the cracks in our control measures, as we move forward".
He said he hopes we get a vaccine, but "that's not a guarantee, and even when we do there's still a lot of work to do".
"We can do a hell of a lot right now to drive and control this virus and we need to really step up our efforts to do that," he told the summit.
Dr Ryan said the virus clearly responds to control measures as "the more we respond the more we push the virus rates down, the less we respond the more those rates increase".
However, he said: "It's very difficult to predict future evolution and therefore very difficult to predict what the impact of an effective vaccine will be."
He said India is very much a hotspot now with its large population. He described the situation in Central and South America as "intense".
Dr Ryan said Europe has seen the disease rise in countries including France, and in South East Asia, which had the best experience of controlling the disease, there are clusters of cases that require significant efforts to keep them under control.
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He said if we do not have proper safety measures in place, being indoors in the northern hemisphere may drive transmission.
Dr Ryan said the challenge in Ireland and around the world is to "surgically pick apart the measures that are going to have the most effect on the virus and the least effect on our communities and our societies".
He said "we have to build stronger public health systems" and build a stronger partnership with our communities.
He said he did not believe the lockdowns themselves bought time, but it was the "communities who essentially agreed to that contract to separate themselves from each other, to isolate and quarantine themselves effectively in order to suppress the transmission of the virus and that worked".
Dr Ryan said many of the world's health systems, including in Ireland, have ramped up their capacity to treat large numbers of patients in a safe way and protect their health workers at the same time.
He said the public health part of the health system, which detects, tests, traces, isolates and quarantines and break chains of transmission in partnership with the community, did not score as highly in its performance worldwide and said "there's more work to be done in that space in the coming weeks".