Christmas Cron-chtime | 

Public urged to ‘avoid Christmas in isolation’ as 24 new Omicron cases confirmed

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan. Photo: Collins Photos

Eoghan Moloney

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has called on people to avoid spending Christmas Day in isolation by taking every stop possible to protect themselves in the run-up to the big day as a further 4,235 cases were confirmed this evening.

Dr Holohan warned that if people contract Covid-19 from today onwards, their period of isolation will include Christmas Day.

His warning came as the Department of Health said a further 47 deaths of people with Covid have been notified in the last seven days. This brings Ireland’s Covid death toll to 5,835.

There have been a further 24 cases of the Omicron variant confirmed, bringing Ireland’s total to 42, but Dr Holohan said the real total is far higher and estimated to be 13pc of all cases in Ireland in the last few days.

“Today marks ten days before Christmas. If you contract Covid-19 today your isolation period will include Christmas Day. This can be avoided by ensuring you take every step possible to protect yourself,” he said.

“If you are planning to spend Christmas with older family members, anyone immunocompromised or vulnerable to the effects of Covid-19, it is best that you take precautions from today. Avoid crowds, limit your contacts, work from home unless absolutely necessary, risk assess your environments and make safe choices over the coming days and weeks.

“Everyone should be aware that Omicron spreads very easily and we have now identified community transmission in Ireland, to the extent that this variant accounts for approximately 13pc of all reported cases.

“Taking the opportunity to get a booster dose of vaccination is as vital today as getting the first dose was earlier this year. You will begin to receive the benefit of your booster protection within seven days of receiving your third dose.”

As of 8am today, there were 470 Covid-19 patients hospitalised, of which 105 were in ICU.

This comes as pharmacies and GPs prepare to rapidly expand their administration of boosters to all over 16 in the coming weeks. While they must prioritise older patients, GPs and pharmacies will be able to give everyone over 16 a booster in the coming days.

People aged 40-49 will first join the over 50s along with pregnant women over the age of 16, soon followed by the 16-39 age group, descending in 10-year blocks.

Tánaiste Leo Varakdar has also said Cabinet is likely to convene on Friday to discuss any further restrictions recommended by Nphet after it meets tomorrow evening. Mr Varadkar said he expects Nphet will issue updated recommendations around decreasing social mixing, the management of close contacts and a change to international travel rules.

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