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'Only meet people indoors that you trust with your life': Stark warning from HSE ahead of Christmas

The HSE said today that someone must prepare now if they’re visiting someone older or medically vulnerable at Christmas.

HSE's Paul Reid and Anne O'Connor at today's briefing.
HSE's Paul Reid and Anne O'Connor at today's briefing.
Image: Leon Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

THE HSE HAS warned today that if people take risks by meeting up with others over the coming week, they should stay away from older or vulnerable relatives at Christmas time. 

Professor Martin Cormican, the national lead for health care associated infection and antimicrobial resistance, told a press conference today that if you’re meeting people indoors it should only be people you “trust with your life”. 

He said: “Be honest with yourself about the risk you’re taking… If you’re going to be worried and upset about that risk for 14 days after, is it really worth it?”

Professor Cormican was speaking as the HSE said today that what happens over the Christmas period will be a determining factor in what happens in our hospitals in January. 

With restrictions on inter-county travel and household visits lifting tomorrow, HSE CEO Paul Reid said he hopes people are “on a maximum level of watch”. 

He said the situation in the North – where many hospitals are now beyond capacity – “gives us a stark reminder” of how rapidly a situation can deteriorate. He particularly pointed to the lag effect in terms of higher case numbers translating into hospitalisations.

Although restrictions around household visits and travel are being relaxed, public health figures have urged the public to be sensible and keep their contacts to a minimum to limit the spread of Covid-19 over Christmas.

The HSE today released an online contact calculator so people can keep track of the amount of contacts they have over Christmas. 

Running through the HSE’s advice, Professor Cormican said the surest ways to avoid catching Covid-19 were to “not meet anyone, not meet anyone outside your household, not meet anyone outside your household indoors”.

He said this was “the harsh reality” of the matter. 

Failing that, the advice was also to “meet the smallest number of people indoors” and “only meet people you trust with your life indoors”. 

If you are having people in your house, the advice is the “fewer the safer”. Furthermore, the advice is also to check that everyone who plans to come has no symptoms on the day and in the days running up to the visit.

When they arrive, they should be greeted with hand sanitiser or soap and water. Other advice includes keeping distance, wearing masks and opening windows.

Cormican added that the bigger the indoor bubble, the bigger the risk of developing Covid-19. 

“The virus doesn’t know it’s Christmas,” he added. “If we give it a break, it’ll take it.”

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With reporting from Michelle Hennessy

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Sean Murray

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