bedroom bound | 

Up to 136,000 people forced to go into isolation over Christmas

Dr Tony Holohan said if one person from a household tests positive before an event, none should attend. Photo: JULIEN BEHAL

Dr Tony Holohan said if one person from a household tests positive before an event, none should attend. Photo: JULIEN BEHAL

Ciara O’Loughlin and Eoghan Moloney

More than 135,000 people will be isolating at home this Christmas due to Covid-19, with close to 50,000 of them confined to their bedrooms.

The HSE advises anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 to self-isolate in their room for at least 10 days.

This means anyone who contracted the virus from December 16 must isolate on Christmas Day.

As part of the new restrictions that were announced last Friday, all close contacts must isolate for at least five days.

Close contacts who have received a booster vaccine must isolate in their home for five days after receiving a close contact message from the HSE.

If they develop symptoms of Covid-19 or receive a positive antigen test and live with other people, they must then isolate in their room.

Close contacts who have not yet received a booster vaccine, or any vaccine, must stay at home for 10 days from when they get a message from the HSE.

If they develop symptoms of Covid-19 or receive a positive antigen test and live with other people, they must then isolate in their room.

Using the current seven-day moving average for the next two days, there will have been 49,421 Covid-19 cases in the 10 days leading up to Christmas.

All these people will be having their meals in their bedrooms.

The average number of close contacts is currently three, so there will be at least 86,526 people isolating in their home, with some of these isolating in their bedrooms due to having Covid-19 symptoms.

It means an estimated 135,947 people will at least be isolating in their homes on Christmas Day. However, this number is likely to be even higher as it only accounts for the close contacts of those infected five days up to Christmas, as those who received a booster only have to isolate for five days, not 10.

Some of those counted in this figure as a close contact could also be counted as an infected case in the following four days.

This is significantly higher than the number of people isolating on Christmas Day last year.

Not including close contacts, there were around 9,000 people isolating last Christmas Day as the seven-day average on December 24 was 918.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said this week that people should only meet up with those they are spending Christmas Day with.

“This week, try and only meet with the people with whom you will spend Christmas Day,” he said.

“Keep your contacts as low as possible in order to protect those around you.

“Public health teams are reporting a higher level of infection among household close contacts as a result of Omicron infection.

“If there is one positive test, whether from a PCR or an antigen test, within a group such as a household, then there is a significant chance that others are already infected, even if not yet testing positive.

“If one person from a household tests positive prior to an event or gathering, then none should attend.”


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