Support for ‘traffic light’ Covid response system
A ‘traffic light’ system for managing future responses, including region-specific responses to the Covid-19 pandemic has received “broad support” from the National Public Health Emergency Team, potentially paving the way for localised lockdowns, it has emerged.
The idea for such a system was first broached by NPHET at a meeting in early July as it discussed how to give “a more nuanced approach” to the ongoing response to the pandemic.
From that point of view, the concept of a “three-level traffic light” system was introduced as a potential means of communicating with the public, healthcare workers, and the Government.
This could be used, minutes from an early-July NPHET meeting show, as a means of assessing the status of the disease in the country at large or in specific regions at any point in time.
Key to informing the status of any area under consideration would be the “epidemiological situation around the country and health service impact therethe minutes state.
Such a system could, in theory, be used should the virus be at higher levels of prevalence in some regions as opposed to others, potentially opening the doors for a system of localised lockdowns, as has been seen in different parts of Europe, notably the UK, in recent days.
“It is increasingly important to be able to detect local resurgences of the disease and to respond promptly,” the minutes said.
“While reporting has centred on a national approach to date, a move to include data at local/regional level may be required and engagement with regional partners should be included in developing the plan.”
Subsequent consideration of the plan at later meetings noted potential issues regarding “proportionality and national solidarity” with regard to regional-specific responses.
It was further noted the “challenge” represented by ruling that a region should move from one phase to another — with ‘from green to amber’ being one example raised.
Key to this concept would be the “empowerment” of reof” gional structures, NPHET heard.
“If there is an outbreak in an area, then that area needs to have a mechanism whereby it can implement localised measures,” the minutes of its July 16 meeting stated.
The idea of colour-coded responses to the pandemic has been seen previously in the fallout from the arrival of Covid-19 worldwide, with Ireland’s designation of 15 ‘Green List’ countries — travel from which no-longer requires the two-week period of self-isolation — being perhaps the most prominent.