‘We can’t stay locked down forever, but caution still needed;, says top NI doctor

A leading doctor has said Northern Ireland “can’t stay locked down forever” and expressed hope that the vaccination roll-out could stave off the threat of another wave of coronavirus.

Thursday, 1st April 2021, 4:31 pm

Dr Alan Stout, the chair of the British Medical Association’s GP committee in Northern Ireland, also stressed that authorities must be prepared to “slow down” and “halt” the easing of lockdown if infection rates do begin to increase.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Dr Stout said: “It is important to emphasise that things are going in the right direction. The numbers are all looking good. The vaccinations are going up and the infection levels are going down, but we’re really on a tightrope at the moment because it could still go either way.

“The infection numbers, even though they are dramatically reducing, are still in and around 1,000 per week so if we do things too quickly and if we’re too impatient those will climb again very, very quickly.”

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He continued: “We can’t stay locked down forever. I think everybody has been very consistent in saying that we will watch what the figures show, we’ll watch the data shows, we’ll watch the impact of every slow step and every little step that we take. That confidence of knowing that the vaccinations are going up and that we are not getting more hospitalisations and deaths means that we can keep going through those steps.

“We also have to be prepared that if we see the figures going the wrong direction that we slow down, that we halt, and we take the appropriate action at those times as well.”

Dr Stout added: “We are massively hopeful that we are not going to see another wave but you can never say anything for definite. I think if we make sure we get the vaccinations completed and completed in the timeframe that we want, we can then do the parallel things to make sure that the infection is as low as possible.”