The prospect that NPHET could be about to call for a new Covid-19 lockdown or at least much tighter restrictions has been raised in the latest comments from Dr Tony Holohan on a day when more than 7,400 new cases emerged.
With an estimated 130,000 supposed to be in isolation, the December 23 statement from the National Public Health Emergency Team, says the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has today been notified of 7,411 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
As of 8am today, 390 COVID-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 98 are in ICU.
While hospital numbers are declining, Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health said case numbers will surge even further.
“With Omicron now accounting for almost three quarters of cases in Ireland, today’s high number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 is not unexpected, and we expect to see a rapid increase in case figures over the coming short period of time.
"It is imperative that all of us, to the greatest extent possible, make every effort we can in the next two to three weeks to only meet with members of our own households. Consider you plans over the Christmas period and into the early part of the New Year and try to keep your contacts as low as possible," he said.
He urged people to isolate if positive.
"If someone in the household receives a “detected” or “positive” test result either via a PCR test or an antigen test, then all members of the household should restrict their movements and not attend work or socialise with others.
"Even though we recognise that it is very difficult at this time of year to stay away from loved ones, it is really important that anyone who receives confirmation of a confirmed COVID-19 infection self-isolate for ten days. If you are identified as a close contact and have received a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine, then you should restrict your movements for five days. If you have not yet been boosted, you should restrict your movements for ten days.
He said anyone who has not yet got their third vaccine should avoid risk of infection.
"If you are yet to receive a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine, then you should take every measure you can to protect yourself until you are eligible to receive it. This includes avoiding risky environments and keeping your contacts as low as possible. All of the available evidence indicates that a booster vaccine will offer good protection against infection with the Omicron variant.
"If you have recently arrived in Ireland from overseas, then you are advised to take an antigen test for the five days following your arrival into Ireland. If you experience any symptoms of COVID-19, however mild, then you must self-isolate immediately and arrange a PCR test," he said.
In anticipation of large volumes of case numbers over the coming period, from today, 23 December, the daily case number announced will be based on positive SARS-CoV-2 results uploaded to the HSE COVID Care Tracker the preceding day. These data are provisional and do not represent notified cases. HPSC and surveillance partners will continue to notify and process cases and outbreaks of COVID-19 on CIDR over this period.
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