The chief medical officer has urged people to stay at home if they have flu-like symptoms and to wear masks again on public transport.
Breda Smyth said this advice includes not going to a Christmas party or gathering with family on Christmas Eve if they have new Covid-like symptoms.
Professor Smyth said she is “very concerned” by a recent spike in coronavirus hospitalizations and urged people to make a concerted effort over the next 4-6 weeks to reduce transmission.
In an interview with the PA news agency, she said she is “very worried” about a recent Covid surge before socializing more over the Christmas period.
She said that although Covid is “very much” in the environment it has stabilized at a certain level so far.
“However, with the last week in particular, we’ve seen a significant surge in the actual numbers of Covid cases,” she told PA, reports The Mirror.
As of Friday, there were an average of 75 Covid hospital admissions per day.
She said hospitalizations could be avoided by using antiviral treatments like Paxlovid if they’re given early and if a suitable person can be found to take them.
Those who are immunocompromised, those who are not fully vaccinated and are over the age of 65, and those who are vaccinated and over the age of 75 may be candidates for antiviral treatment.
Professor Smyth continued: “I am concerned because even though we have a certain level of protection within our population because of the success of our vaccination programme, it is still circulating, and we still have vulnerable populations within our community,” reports The Mirror.
She said she advises people to stay home if they have symptoms and to go back to wearing masks on public transport.
“One thing I think we can improve on is wearing masks on public transport. Currently, the compliance is very low, and I do think that we are actually in the peak of our season, so now is the time to wear them,” reports The Mirror.
She said this includes staying home on Christmas Eve if you have a new cough, sore throat, fever or runny nose.
“Currently we know that there are three different viruses circulating at the same time: flu, Covid, and RSV. All of these have respiratory symptoms. So all of them are significant illnesses, they can make you quite ill and they are transmissible through the same avenues. It’s really important that if people have any of the respiratory symptoms, that is a new onset, that you stay at home until they substantially resolve and that will really help prevent the onward transmission,” she added, reports The Mirror.
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