DCU collaborate on new strategy to tackle Covid-19 outbreaks

Niamh Quinlan

The Green Zone Strategy is a possible new approach to help tackle the new wave of Covid-19 outbreaks, according to a report released August 11, conducted by a collaboration of Irish and international experts.

The report, ‘A Green Zone Strategy for Ireland’, was published by the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI).

It covers this possible new approach to tackling the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland, just as the country has recently hit a spike in cases.

A Green Zone Strategy is an approach that will categorise infection rate in localised regions, such as at a county or city level.

The strategy will categorise the rate of infections by labeling them in a traffic light colour scheme. “Red zones are defined as having active local infections, yellow zones border these red regions, and green zones are defined as having no new cases,” according to a DCU press release.

Once these red zones have been identified, they can be contained by cutting off non-essential travel and business to the region.

This would then allow areas in the “green zones” (regions with no new cases) to remain open and to function normally.

“A Green Zone strategy will enable Ireland to have the best opportunity to open schools, bars, restaurants, instead of whack-a-mole outbreaks and lockdowns and every day a lack of safety,” said Professor Anthony Staines, Chair of Health Systems Research in DCU’s School of Nursing, Psychotherapy and Community Health.

Professor Staines worked alongside Professor Gerry Killeen, School of Biological, Earth & Environmental Sciences and Environmental Research Institute of University College Cork (UCC), Professor Ivan Perry the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in UCC, and Professor Yaneer Bar-Yam, President of NECSI.

Professor Bar-Yam said adopting this strategy “will enable Ireland to get a step ahead of the virus rather than being 10 steps behind.”

“Countries that imposed restrictions on non-essential travel, both internationally and between localities within their borders, have achieved very rapid contraction of their epidemics and local, or even national, elimination of the disease,” said the report.

This specific Green Zone Strategy has been applied in many other countries effectively, “although often not completely”, such as in New Zealand, China, Switzerland, Argentina and also Ireland, according to the report.

This incomplete adoption of the Green Zone Strategy was seen in Ireland when the counties of Laois, Offaly and Kildare we placed under lockdown from August 8 to at least August 22.

The government chose to enforce measures such as limiting travel in and out of the counties, encouraging working from home and also only allowed restaurant and cafés to serve takeaway, delivery and outdoor dining.

Schools are set to reopen at the end of the month nationwide, while between Saturday, August 15 and Wednesday, August 20, there were 426 new cases in Ireland.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: dcu.ie