Covid-19 Ireland: Irish public told to 'rein in' plans before Christmas with virus 'out of control'

By Marita Moloney

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer have asked the Irish public to "rein in" their Christmas plans because the pandemic is "out of control" in Ireland.

Dr Ronan Glynn said that he remains extremely concerned about the situation with the virus as we approach the festive season.

It comes as NPHET will meet on Thursday to "look at the data" on the virus since further measures were introduced last week.

The team of public health officials will then convene again next week to assess updated modelling on the trajectory of the disease.

Dr Glynn said in a week or ten days time, "we can see where we are" in terms of whether additional advice on more rules will be issued.

"None of us" want to see added restrictions ahead of Christmas, he said, but if NPHET "see a further disimprovement in the trajectory of the disease" then "we're going to have to make recommendations to address those concerns".

Despite this, there was one indicator that a corner may have been turned in recent days.

"In the last couple of days, the positivity rate has plateaued but it's plateauing at an extremely high level, maybe 20% positivity in the community," the Deputy CMO told RTE's Today with Claire Byrne programme.

"It, in and of itself, isn't much use but I think what is the more positive sign is what we have seen in our survey data which is now that the majority of people are hearing the message, are reducing their contacts, are planning on cutting back on socialisation that we would all otherwise like to engage in over December.

"Ultimately, that will be the key driver."

Everyone over 50 is now eligible for a Covid-19 booster (Liam McBurney/PA Wire/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

People's behaviour is changing "in the right direction", he added, after data from Amarach shows that almost 57% of people are reducing the number of contacts they plan to meet between now and Christmas and 45% have cancelled plans.

"To my mind, last week was the first week in a number of weeks that the level of concern we have really got across to people so I would hope to see that improve again in the weeks ahead," Dr Glynn added.

However, a positivity rate of 20% suggests "we have a pandemic that's out of control in this country", he said.

"We do have a pandemic that's out of control in this country at the moment, there is no getting away from that and that's the situation in every country across Europe," he stated.

"Our first priority at all times is to try and prevent as many people as possible from getting sick and as many vulnerable people as possible from ending up in hospital, critical care and dying."

Dr Glynn urged the Irish public to "rein in" the number of people they plan to meet in the run up to Christmas.

"If you recall our key concern this time last year was that in the first two weeks of December, we would have huge levels of inter-household mixing through socialisation, so lots and lots of younger people coming together in bars and pubs and other settings in this country," he said.

"What then happens from December 20 onwards is they all go home to their family homes and they get inter-generational mixing.

"That combination of inter-household mixing followed by inter-generational mixing led to what happened in this country last January.

"And so our core message has to be that if you're going home to your family, to your parents, to your uncles and aunts, your grannies, you need to rein in the socialisation in the weeks ahead."

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