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covid concern Health experts urge people not to attend New Year’s celebrations

The warnings come as Dr Tony Holohan said it is possible that the restrictions could last into March.

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Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health (Brian Lawless/PA)

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health (Brian Lawless/PA)

PA

Dr Tony Holohan, chief medical officer at the Department of Health (Brian Lawless/PA)

Health experts have issued fresh appeals urging people not to attend New Year’s celebrations tonight.

The warnings come after a record 1,718 new cases of Covid-19 were reported yesterday with 13 deaths.

GP Advisor to the HSE, Dr Ray Walley said house parties will cause further people to get sick.

"Infections will occur in that party,” he said.

"Anybody who you invite to a party, there will be many there who are already infected and unfortunately they'll infect more.

"So if we consider that one infection with ten layers of infection causes up to 54,000 infections it is one of the most infectious viruses around.

"My advice is there is no congregating, no house parties. Any meeting or congregating has to be stopped now."

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has told Newstalk's Late Breakfast With Mark Cagney suggestions that the restrictions could last into March are a possibility.

"I can't rule that out, I couldn't rule that out - but at the moment, we have a four week opportunity."

"I know this wouldn't be possible - but if every single person could isolate themselves from every other person in the population for a period of 14 days, the whole infection would disappear".

"At the moment I'm not able to tell you that I see any sign that suggests that this is slowing down, unfortunately.

"With that very high level of infection it's going to take quite an amount of time - if I can say - to wash that level of infection out of the population.

"So we have it all to do in the four weeks until the end of January.”

And he said the measures have worked before, even though they are difficult.

"They're very hard to have to accept again, both economically and the restrictions on personal lives and freedoms and all of those things.

"But we do know that if we keep a very high level of compliance that most of us have held all the way through this, we know already that this is a measure that can work".

"It's unfortunate that we have to take it, but we're in the situation now where we need a measure - because this virus is out of control in the population".

He said the number of contacts people have been reporting has been rising.

"We've seen a very significant increase in the number of contacts... on average per person.

"Some of those individual cases generating very large numbers of contacts - so clearly there are some people out there who are simply not in any way following the basic public health advice."

"When you have a case and you're able to identify 20 and 30 contacts, that's just a place we shouldn't be".

He said the average number of contacts per case has risen from around 2.5 in November, to an average of 6.3 in recent days.

He added that the measures introduced so far have prevented higher mortality rates.

"To the extent that we can compare how we've performed as a country with other European countries it did work.

"We kept mortality at a very low level in comparison to the European average."

"When we got to the end of November, the case numbers that we had were somewhere in the region of about 250 per day on a five day average - and that was a high level of infection in relative terms.

"When we began to ease restrictions then we know we've seen a significant change in people's behaviour in terms of social contacts.

"When you put that together with the high case numbers, we've just seen a very rapid acceleration".


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