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Dr Emer Shelley, dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine in the Royal College of Physicians ,made a light-heart referenced to Santa when interviewed about Covid-19 on Good Morning Britain.

Dr Emer Shelley, dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine in the Royal College of Physicians ,made a light-heart referenced to Santa when interviewed about Covid-19 on Good Morning Britain.

Dr Emer Shelley, dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine in the Royal College of Physicians ,made a light-heart referenced to Santa when interviewed about Covid-19 on Good Morning Britain.

A leading Irish public health expert on Covid-19 has been accused on Twitter of “fat shaming” Santa after appearing on a UK morning television.

Dr Emer Shelley, dean of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine in the Royal College of Physicians ,made a light-heart referenced to Santa when interviewed about Covid-19 on Good Morning Britain.

She said that Santa had undergone a serious risk assessment due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr Shelley said he was ”not exactly thin” and he would be in a risk category of being admitted to intensive care if he caught the virus.

But he will be travelling very fast so he is unlikely to transmit the virus.

However, she reassured everyone he will be able to visit homes this Christmas and will not meet anyone and is not a risk because households will be asleep when he delivers his presents.

Dr Shelley’s comments sparked mixed reaction on social media .

One person posed “Have I seriously just heard a doctor on GMB fat shaming Santa Claus? Christmas spirit eh?'

Another tweet said : 'The people on GMB doing a full analysis of whether Santa is at risk from coronavirus due to his age/weight and deciding on whether he is a super spreader...'

A separate tweet said :”Can't quite believe I'm watching Ireland's top public health official discussing Santa Claus's vulnerability to Covid on GMB "he is quite obese and so high risk".'

Another person posted: :”I've accidentally switched on GMB to hear a group of adults discussing whether Santa could visit this year and if he does, would he be a super spreader?! I'm going to bed.”

Dr Shelley told Independent.ie today that her comments were to be seen as light hearted.

She had been asked on the programme to describe Ireland’s Level 5 strategy which will see restrictions for six weeks with a view to opening up in December in the lead up to Christmas.

“They asked were the public buying into it. I said in surveys show people are ahead of the politicians and saying we should have more restrictions.

“I was agreeing with a doctor from Germany that our situations are very similar and it is reassuring countries that have done very well like Germany are taking similar approaches.”

She said because the topic was Christmas there was a reference to Santa.

“That was the context in which I said that with a couple of colleagues we had considered a risk assessment of Santa because he has to travel around the world and secondly , though reluctant to comment on his weight it is an issue .Being overweight is a risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and so on which not only increases the risk of having a serious form of Covid-19.

“But considering those risks we recognised that everyone is a sleep when he comes.

“He will not meet anyone and Santa and the entourage, even if they pick up some virus along the way, they travel so quickly that is impossible for the virus to land anywhere and lead to transmission.

“It’s the one piece of good news out there.”

Dr Shelley said: ”If people can stick with it the reward for the next five weeks will be a lifting of the restrictions in the run up to Christmas.

Asked her reaction to the social media comments she said she had not seen them but she added: ”Its important to have a sense of humour.”

Online Editors


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