18 May 2022

It is 'not safe' for people to meet up in numbers for New Year's Eve - Chief Medical Officer

It is 'not safe' for people to meet up in numbers for New Year's Eve - Chief Medical Officer

It is now  ‘simply not safe’ for people to meet in large numbers this evening to ring in New Year’s, the Chief Medical Officer has warned.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland earlier today, Dr Tony Holohan said due to the record-breaking level of Covid in the community, it was important for people to take steps to protect themselves against infection.

The current government guidelines state that up to four households can meet indoors, but Holohan said that following significant discussion in recent days there is no difference between his views and those of Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.

Dr Holohan said people need to ask themselves, "what’s the most effective thing that I can do as an individual to protect myself?" and limit their contacts. 

It is also expected that schools will reopen after the the Christmas break. 

"At the moment schools are scheduled to re-open next week," Dr Holohan said.

"We keep that whole situation under review, but as things stand at the moment that's our current advice," the Chief Medical Officer said. 

"We're doing everything we can... to protect the most important public services that we have."

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced guidance changes on Thursday evening.

Testing advice has been changed from seeking a PCR test with symptoms to using antigen testing at home.

Those who test positive with an antigen test should seek a PCR test to confirm the result.

Self-isolating advice for those who test positive for Covid-19 has also changed.

Those aged 12 and over, who have had their booster vaccine jabs for at least seven days, should self-isolate for seven days instead of the previous advice of 10 days.

Mr Donnelly said transmission is continuing to rapidly increase in Ireland and daily case numbers are substantially exceeding the highest previously reported in the pandemic to date.

“The 14-day incidence is now estimated at over 2,300 per 100,000 population,” he said.

“We are seeing levels of new daily cases in hospital that we have not seen since last January.

“While our booster rollout programme is going extremely well, the extent to which the epidemic is continuing to accelerate means that there is still significant concern regarding the likely impact of such high case counts on our health services.”

He has urged the public to “layer up” protective measures including wearing face coverings, good ventilation and antigen testing.

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