Many countries across Europe including Ireland are concluding that the only way to curb Covid-19 “is to bring this virus sharply under control” with tighter measures on isolation and mandatory quarantine, according to public health specialist Prof Anthony Staines.

Speaking at a webinar on the case for an international travel quarantine, the Dublin City University academic predicted that if Ireland was not the first country in the European Union to pursue this course, Germany would be.

“Each country has to decide for itself what it wants to do. I have a sense across Europe that many are facing the same challenge that we’re facing and moving to the same conclusions. We need to bring this virus sharply under control. But they’re looking for someone to go first,” Prof Staines said at the event hosted by the Independent Scientific Advocacy Group (ISAG) for Covid in Ireland.

“If this is not done,” he added, “the consequences will be on all of our heads.” While the current scenario might appear to be overwhelming when it comes to cases, deaths, pressure on intensive care units and new variants, it should be stressed that “things are difficult but there are ways out”.

The response in all instances, he said, had to be intense public health measures including isolation and quarantine for those travelling between countries.

Dr Tomás Ryan, a neuroscientist at Trinity College Dublin, said international travel quarantines were shown to work in South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. “There is no question. We can do this and we have the hotel capacity,” he said.