Work together in lockdown to protect people from coronavirus urges public health doctor

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

coronavirus covid-19

Coronavirus Covid-19 advice

People need to work together in lockdown to ensure people at higher risk of suffering serious health problems from the coronavirus are not infected, according to the public health doctor helping to co-ordinate the response in the midlands. 

Dr Una Fallon is the Consultant in Public Health Medicine for the Midlands. She urged people to help at-risk groups.

"Following the Government announcement on the additional restrictions, we all need to work together to protect people who may be more at risk of serious illness if they catch coronavirus.

"But we do not think these groups have a higher risk of catching coronavirus. You can find information for At-Risk Groups which has all the necessary advice and guidance. The advice now is for everyone to follow the stay at home advice. Ask others to shop for you. They can leave supplies at your door.

"You do not need to self-isolate unless you have symptoms of coronavirus. If you are caring for someone in an at-risk group, follow the advice on how to protect yourself from coronavirus," she said.

Dr Fallon also reminded the public about the importance of cocooning. This is a measure to protect people who are over 70 years of age or those who are extremely medically vulnerable by minimising all interaction between them and others.  

"The HSE welcomes this initiative of Government and is strongly advising people over 70 years of age and those with serious underlying medical conditions which put them at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus to rigorously follow cocooning measures in order to keep themselves safe.

"To people in this category, we say you are strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face-to-face contact for a period of two weeks. This period is being kept under review," she said.

The main cocooning measures are:

1.       Strictly avoid contact with someone who is displaying symptoms of COVID-19. These symptoms include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.

2.       Do not leave your house.

3.       Do not attend any gatherings. This includes gatherings of friends and families in private spaces for example family homes, weddings and religious services.

4.       Do not go out for shopping and, when arranging food or medication deliveries, these should be left at the door to minimise contact.

5.       Keep in touch using remote technology such as phone, internet, and social media.

6.       Do use telephone or online services to contact your GP or other essential services.

7.       Ensure you keep phones/devices charged, and have credit on your phone so that you can stay connected.

Dr Fallon also refreshed people on how the virus is spread and how to protect yourself and others.

“Coronavirus is spread in sneeze or cough droplets. To infect you, it has to get from an infected person's nose or mouth into your eyes, nose or mouth. You could get the virus if you come into close contact with someone who has the virus and is coughing or sneezing or if you touch surfaces that someone who has the virus has coughed or sneezed on.

“The most important thing you can do is protect yourself and protect others. Do this by washing your hands properly and often. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve when you cough and sneeze and put used tissues into a bin. Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. Avoid close contact with others by keeping a distance of 2 metres between you and others.

“If you are waiting on a test to see if you have COVID-19 or you have been tested and are waiting for the results you need to stay home and self-isolate. If you have any symptoms, assume you have COVID-19 and isolate yourself for 14 days to prevent spreading any potential infection to others and to help stop the spread of this disease," said Dr Fallon.

For information on protecting yourself and others, please visit www.hse.ie or telephone HSELive on 1850 24 1850.