NI will be in lockdown in January or February Professor of Global Public Health Devi Sridhar tells Stormont health committee - Executive considering imposing ban on household mixing on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day - Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine due to arrive in NI next week

One of the world’s most revered public health experts has told the Stormont Health Committee that she thinks the relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas period will result in Northern Ireland entering into another lockdown in January and/or February.

Thursday, 3rd December 2020, 6:07 pm

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The professore said a return to lockdown is inevitable if restrictions are relaxed over Christmas.

LIVE UPDATES: NI will be in lockdown in New Year says public health expert

Last updated: Thursday, 03 December, 2020, 13:02

  • NI will be in lockdown in New Year says public health expert
  • Ban on households mixing on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day a possibility
  • Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine has shelf-life of five days once defrosted
  • UK to take first delivery of vaccine within the next few hours

NI will be in lockdown in January or February Professor of Global Public Health Devi Sridhar tells Stormont health committee

NI will be in lockdown in the New Year, according to Professor of Global Public Health Devi Sridhar

One of the world’s most revered public health experts has told the Stormont Health Committee that she thinks the relaxation of restrictions over the Christmas period will result in Northern Ireland entering into another lockdown in January and/or February.

Professor of Global Public Health at Edinburgh University Devi Sridhar told the committee on Thursday morning that she was very worried about the unilateral decision to lift travel restrictions across the United Kingdom between December 23 to 27.

Last month, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all agreed to relax Covid-19 restrictions so to allow people to have a relatively normal Christmas with family and friends.

One of the restrictions that will be lifted during this time is travel.

People will be able to travel unhindered anywhere in the UK during this time and Professor Sridhar said it is something the Northern Ireland Executive must be aware of.

“I am very worried in the UK about the lifting of all the travel restrictions over that five day Christmas period,” Professor Sridhar told the committee.

“I am worried because some parts of the UK have moved into a tiered system where you have low prevalence areas that have more freedom and high prevalence areas with more restrictions - the system is working with travel restrictions in place so people stay where they are.”

Professor Sridhar continued: "The restrictions will be lifted for five days and you are going to have movement of people all over and for me, that spells we are just going to be in another lockdown come January or February.

"This might happen because you will have the importation of the virus from high prevalence to low prevalence areas and places in the lower tiers will just end up back in lockdown.

“I know the tier system is not being used in Northern Ireland but it is a concern because there was that four nation agreement on the lifting of travel restrictions - I would say it’s something that should be on your radar because I think it will come as a massive shock to the system over the Christmas period,” she said.

Ban on households mixing on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day a possibility

Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

The Northern Ireland Executive is believed to be considering imposing a ban on households mixing indoors on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

The confirmed relaxation of the restrictions apply from December 23 to 27.

It is anticipated that there will be a return to restriction measures on December 28 and the restrictions would apply on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

We contacted the Department of Health (DoH) and asked if Health Minister, Robin Swann, would advise the Northern Ireland Executive to return to a ban on the mixing of households indoors from December 28.

The DoH would not provide details of any recommendations  prior to them being brought before the Executive.

The Executive will meet on Thursday to finalise the plan for the relaxation of the restrictions.

It is believed the Executive will also consider a limit on the number of people over the age of 11 from three separate households that can meet up indoors from December 23 to 27.

880 peer vaccinators primed and ready to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine when it arrives next week

Head of Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccine programme, Patricia Donnelly.

The head of Northern Ireland’s Covid-19 vaccine programme, Patricia Donnelly, has told the Stormont health committee that there are currently 880 peer vaccinators primed and ready to administer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine when it arrives next week.

Ms. Donnelly briefed the committee on the plan to start administering a Covid-19 vaccine to those deemed most vulnerable first.

Ms. Donnelly also revealed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which has to be stored at below freezing temperatures, has a shelf-life of five days once it is removed from a freezer.

Ms. Donnelly confirmed that in the interests of safety the Northern Ireland vaccine programme would be working as if the vaccine has a shelf life of four days.

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