NI Covid-19 'summer surge' fears says government scientist - Health Minister Robin Swann calls for 'caution and vigilance'

A top government scientist has said he expects to see a "summer surge" in Covid-19 infections in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Wednesday, 21st April 2021, 6:29 pm

Professor Adam Finn, of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) expressed concern at the way in which the lockdown was being eased in the UK and called on politicians to exercise caution.

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"If people move too far forward with that too fast, we'll see things start to come up earlier.

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The scene at Helen's Bay last summer.

"The sense that the problem is all over, I'm afraid is a flawed one, we're still in a vulnerable situation, and there are still significant numbers of people who potentially could be harmed by this infection if this happens," Professor Finn added.

Professor Finn's words come on the same day Northern Ireland's Health Minister, Robin Swann, called for "caution and vigilance" as restrictions are eased over the coming weeks.

“We are all looking forward to restrictions being relaxed – it’s been hard earned. Moving out of restrictions, however, does not mean we can ease up in our attitude towards the virus.

“We must not jeopardise the important progress made to date or do anything that could impede our pathway towards a better summer," said Minister Swann.

Health Minister, Robin Swann.

He added: “The achievable goal - and the objective for us all - must be to exit lockdown on a sustainable basis. That will require continued caution and vigilance. Mixing without social distancing and throwing caution to the wind will have consequences.

“I support the Executive’s decisions last week. As Health Minister, I am very conscious of the consequences of prolonged lockdown, not least for mental and physical well-being. I don’t want us ever to have to go back there and working together we can shape the weeks and months ahead.

“However, let no one think that the threat from the virus is going to simply fade away. It is not. The good news is that it is in our hands to keep it in check, to keep it under control."

Minister Swann conintinued: “We can do this by sticking with the public health advice that keeps us all safe and getting vaccinated once it’s our turn.

Face coverings must still be worn indoors as restrictions are eased.

"That means getting our first dose and our second dose, so we have the best protection.

"We can protect our health and our freedoms by taking up the vaccine, keeping our social interactions outdoors, avoiding crowded settings, letting the fresh air in.

"Please continue to avoid indoor settings for now and keep close contacts with others to as few as possible.

“There is an inevitable potential for a further spike in COVID-19 cases in coming months, as opportunities for mixing increase. We must be prepared for that.

People enjoying the warm sunny weather in Botanic Gardens, Belfast last year.

“Our ability to suppress the virus and withstand any potential surge depends on us adhering to public health guidance and getting the vaccine.”

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