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'We can't have some kind of national party': Public urged to be cautious about socialising in weeks ahead

252 outbreaks of the virus in the last two weeks are down to gatherings in houses.

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair NPHET's Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group
Professor Philip Nolan, Chair NPHET's Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group
Image: RollingNews.ie

THE NATIONAL PUBLIC Health Emergency Team (NPHET) has urged people to ‘ration’ their contacts in coming weeks in a bid to stop Covid-19 from spreading further.

Speaking at this evening’s press briefing about the virus, Professor Philip Nolan, who chairs the epidemiological modelling advisory group, called for the public to use common sense in the weeks ahead.

Nolan and Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn urged people to obey guidelines about limiting people at indoor and outdoor gatherings, and to adhere to physical distancing rules when socialising.

They were commenting after health officials confirmed another 93 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.

New figures from NPHET also show that 252 new outbreaks of the virus in the last two weeks were related to social gatherings in private houses.

Asked by TheJournal.ie about the ongoing increase in cases and the possibility of Ireland entering another lockdown, Glynn said a decrease in mixing between households and congregations in social settings was needed.

“I know that’s difficult for people. I know that impacts on people’s social lives and on the social fabric of our communities around the country,” he explained.

“But really, we’re hoping that people will take those on board and stick to the figures of six [people indoors] and 15 [people outdoors], and will stick with us over the next couple of weeks.

“Let’s get the number of cases back down and then we can see where we are in the middle of September.”

Glynn also said there had been a “slow growth” of Covid-19 in Ireland, while Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has joined calls for people to maintain social distancing when meeting up, even if it is a friend or relative.

Those calls were echoed by Nolan at this evening’s briefing, when he asked the public to “ration the total number of contacts” that they have in the weeks ahead.

“Nobody’s advising [or] there’s no public health guidelines which say you have to have a bubble of six or ten people,” he said.

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“But I’ve said it in other circumstances: we as adults in the community need to starve this virus of opportunities to transmit.”

Nolan noted that NPHET was not asking people to “imprison themselves”, but to temper their need to interact with other people, and to be careful when they do socialise.

He explained that this would still be the advice even if pubs and other settings closed under current restrictions were open.

“We’ve a long winter to get through here, and we need to keep this virus at bay through the winter,” he said.

“So whatever happens in the coming weeks in terms of social outlets and recreational outlets, we need to ration the amount of those that we use.

“We can’t have some kind of national party in two or three weeks’ time where we suddenly scale up our social contacts because we change our circumstances.” 

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