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Back track Further 3,428 new Covid-19 cases as Tánaiste says work from home where possible

If people can work from home, they should, but it is still allowed and possible to return to offices for a particular business purpose.

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A further 3,428 new Covid-19 cases were announced today, the Department of Health has confirmed.

478 people are in hospital with the illness, 75 of whom are in ICU.

The latest figures come as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said workers should work from home where possible as infections continue to soar.

Mr Varadkar said although the government’s position, which saw the majority of workers return to their offices on October 19, had not changed as yet, “the essential message is that people if can work from home they should,” he said.

Describing the current situation as “fragile” the Tánaiste said he would “very much encourage employers and employees to work together.”

“If people can work from home, they should, but it is still allowed and possible to return to offices for a particular business purpose.

“So for example for training and induction, and meetings; for things that can’t be done as well when based at home.

“And we do appreciate, sometimes people in certain circumstances, perhaps for mental health reasons wish to come into the office once a week; or people who live in crowded accommodation and don’t have an appropriate work station at home.

“The general advice is to work from home where possible, but there are common-sense exceptions as well.”

Speaking at the official opening of a new extension of GMIT Galway’s Innovation Hub and new Medical Imaging Suite, Mr Varadkar warned that while further restrictions this winter were unlikely, he feared next winter with vaccine and natural immunity waning, the public health picture could deteriorate.

“I think if we have learned anything from the pandemic is that nobody can predict the future. And this virus does keep surprising us.

“But what we anticipate is that because of the immunity from vaccines, and also infection acquired immunity is that we will reach a point over the next couple of weeks where infections will start falling.

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“But pandemics never end; they tend to fizzle out, but I would be confident we will get through the winter, and we will be in a much better place next spring and summer.

“But of course, next winter, this virus, which is now endemic, will appear again, and at that point, the vaccine immunity has waned, your natural immunity has waned, and you could see outbreaks again.

“This is a pandemic that is not going to end one day.

“We will never be able to declare mission accomplished.

“But I do think if we get through this winter, then Spring and Summer will be very normal, much more like what we were used to before the pandemic.

“But we can’t rule out running into difficulties next winter again.

“And that is the nature of respiratory viruses. The Spanish flu was caused by a strain of influenza that still comes around now and then to cause trouble, unfortunately.”

“The situation is fragile, but it is also stable. The cases are very high and continuing to rise; we are expecting them to rise over the coming days.

“It’s important to say we will never make any decision based on cases alone. We will always look at other factors- the number of people in hospital and ICU, for example.

“And thankfully, that has been relatively stable. That gives us confidence the vaccine wall is holding.

“I appreciate the public health advice can be confusing for people.

“The easiest advice when it comes to public health advice is binary, (either say ) stay at home or behave as if things were before the pandemic.

“What is more complicated is actually what we are asking people to do now, and that is to try to live our normal lives but do it in a way that is a bit different to how we did in the past.

“That’s a more complicated message.

“It would be so much easier for politicians and doctors and health experts to give binary advice like that, but that’s not actually what we need; we are trying to live with Covid.”

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