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virus fears Health expert warns Ireland is in a 'fragile position' as public urged to restrict movements over Christmas

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Professor Philip Nolan has been advising the Government (Brian Lawless/PA)

Professor Philip Nolan has been advising the Government (Brian Lawless/PA)

Professor Philip Nolan has been advising the Government (Brian Lawless/PA)

The country is in a "fragile position" despite the number of people hospitalised with Covid-19 dipping below 200 for the first time in more than two months, Professor Philip Nolan has said.

Speaking on RTÉ's Saturday with Katie Hannon earlier today, the Chair of the National Public Health and Emergency Team (Nphet) Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said people need to consider the risks associated with the opportunities to socialise over the coming weeks.

"We're in really quite a delicate and fragile position in terms of the level of circulating virus, the numbers of people in hospital and intensive care,” he said.

“We're asking people to do two things: think about how many contacts they really need to have in order to have a meaningful Christmas and limit that to the lowest possible number, particularly now.

"If we restrict our contacts now, over the next 10 to 14 days, it really significantly reduces the risk of a contact over the core Christmas period leading to infection.

"Separately, we need people to think about the risks in any given circumstance and any given contact.

"To very carefully think about the risks of that contact and do everything they can to reduce the risks."

He added, however, that many people can see “the finish line” in terms of the introduction of a vaccine.

"Being able to see that finish line gives people hope and strength."

He also appealed for people not to put older or vulnerable people under pressure to go to other houses or make them feel obliged to have visitors to theirs.

The latest figures show there are 190 patients with the virus being treated in Ireland's hospitals, a reduction of 14 since yesterday.

The last time there was this few Covid-19 positive patients in hospital was on 10 October, when 194 people were admitted.

The Chief Executive of the Health Service Executive, Paul Reid, tweeted that everyone wants to see this trend continue.

"Let's all play our part. Stay safe this weekend and protect your Christmas too," he said.

And while the Government's Regulators' Forum was told yesterday that there has been a high level of compliance with Covid-19 regulations in businesses and other organisations, there were further reminders about attendance at a number of high profile GAA matches this weekend.

Waterford take on Limerick at 3.30pm behind closed doors in Croke Park tomorrow but one local pub said it would close to keep the “parish’s best interests at heart”.

Crotty’s Inn in Lemybrien, Co Waterford tweeted on Friday: “Unfortunately due to huge demand, and having our parish’s best interests at heart prior to Xmas, we’ve decided not to open this Sunday for the hurling final. “

The pub added: “We will be open on Monday, hopefully celebrating an All Ireland victory. Wouldn’t that be something ?!”

On Friday gardaí warned hurling fans to enjoy this weekend’s events by following the public health guidelines and regulations.

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