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Christmas crisis Covid cases could reach up to 400,000 in December, Dr Tony Holohan warns

None of those people are infected yet, if we have 200,000 people infected, 4,000 will end up in hospital at Christmas"


Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan (Brian Lawless/PA)

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan is advising the public “to stay at home as much as possible” warning up to 400,000 could be infected with Covid-19 by Christmas.

Dr Holohan has said 200,000 people, or even double this, will likely be infected by the virus in December if the population don’t change their behaviours “from the level of activity and adherence that we have at the moment.”

Asked whether work Christmas parties should still go ahead, Dr Holohan told RTÉ’s News at One: “An organisaton should look at itself and the kind of measures it needs to take, we are advising people to stay at home as much as possible and work from home, those are responsible decisions.

“What we are trying to prevent is potentially 200,000 or even double that picking up this infection in the month of December.


Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

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“None of those people are infected yet, if we have 200,000 people infected 4,000 will end up in hospital at Christmas.

“So we would see 200,000 people being asked to self-isolate over the Christmas period where they can’t meet up with friends, family or anybody else.

“These are huge impacts that will be placed on the population at this time of the year if we don't find it within ourselves to improve our collective adherence.”

Dr Holohan said people who are cancelling their plans are being “responsible” and that the public needs to follow measures, such as self-isolating if they have symptoms, to curb the current surge.

"We are in a serious situation as a country, it is a preventable surge of infection but if we don't it is going to have the impact of very significant pressure in our hospitals that we are already seeing.

“If you have symptoms you must get a PCR test, not an antigen test and if you are a close contact you must restrict your movements.

“Everyone else works from home as much as possible and gets their booster as soon as it's due and follows all the basic advice.

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“These measures won't work if the population doesn't change their behaviours from the level of activity and adherence that we have at the moment,” he stated.

Separately, clinicians and researchers at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences are urging people to only use antibiotics when prescribed by a health professional and not to demand antibiotics if advised they are not needed.

This is especially critical this winter with a greater number of viral infections in circulation, according to Professor Fidelma Fitzpatrick, Head of Department of Clinical Microbiology, RCSI.

Marking this year’s World Antimicrobial Awareness Week and European Antibiotics Awareness Day tomorrow, the RCSI is joining the global campaign led by WHO/Europe to promote the responsible and prudent use of antibiotics to avoid the further emergence and spread of drug-resistant infections.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is one of the biggest threats to global health, food security, and development today.

Professor Fitzpatrick said: “Antimicrobial resistance is rising to dangerously high levels all over the world. The continued use, particularly the inappropriate use of antibiotics in humans, animals and in other situations is leading to significant increases in the development and spread of AMR.

"A growing number of infections – such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, salmonellosis and gonorrhoea – are becoming harder to treat as the antibiotics used to treat them become less effective. Antibiotics are also critical to treat patients with sepsis – AMR threatens this.”

“This winter, many more of us will contract more viral infections than last year. The critical message is that antibiotics do not cure viral infections. I would really urge people to try to prevent infection by following all of the infection prevention measures we’re now familiar with and to check undertheweather.ie for evidence-based advice on how to manage the typical winter viral illnesses,” she added.

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