The decision to ease restrictions on Covid-19 in Northern Ireland this Friday could result in a record number of infections in the New Year, warned Professor Gabriel Scully.
The president of the Belfast-born British Royal Society of Medicine’s epidemiology and public health department said he did not think the decision was wise.
Northern Ireland has much higher rates of infection and death than the Republic.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Prof Scali said he believed “the consequences of Christmas will not be good”.
Stormont’s top medical and scientific advisers warn that additional restrictions will be needed if there is, as expected, a jump in the number of cases following the easing of restrictions this Friday.
At that point, the non-core retail will reopen after closing in two weeks. Most of the catering sector, except for pubs that sell only alcohol, will also open after closing in October.
Close contact services, such as hairdressers, are among the other business activities to be reopened in the North.
“I think lifting these restrictions can only have one effect, it can only make the virus circulate even wider,” Prof Scali warned.
“The numbers will increase, there is no doubt about that, and that.” [will turn] in hospital admissions and that [will turn] in death. “
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He said that just because the Stormont CEO said the public could do some things they could not do before, did not mean it was a good idea to do so.
The professor urged people not to hold large family gatherings at Christmas, but instead to “keep their Easter hugs”.
He said a period of stricter restrictions would be needed to reduce the number of infections again.
“This is just bad news, what a way to start the New Year, which should be optimistic and joyful because the vaccine is coming, and we will probably enter this New Year again with a record number of cases.” “It does not look good.”