Immunologist Professor Luke O’Neill is advising people to keep family hugs to a minimum this Christmas.
“It sounds draconian,” he admitted, but if families are to gather he recommended they hug briefly, while wearing a mask and out of doors.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Prof O’Neill said that distancing, ventilation and hand hygiene would be very important.
“Have a good breeze blowing through the house and put grandpa by the window,” he recommended.
Prof O’Neill said he hoped that restrictions will be lifted to allow three to four households to meet, but he also suggested that people should bring their own dinnerware, only one person should be in the kitchen serving food and seating should be staggered around the table.
“It’s going to be tough,” he acknowledged. “We can’t have people together for 10 hours in a room playing games. This will be a different Christmas.” Prof O’Neill said that mask wearing remained an important factor in the suppression of the virus. “Mask wearing is key to picking up a low dose which will lead to better outcomes.”
The development of four vaccines to combat Covid would lead to new approaches for other infectious diseases, he added. “This will galvanise the drug companies.” When asked if he would get the vaccine himself, he said he would be “the first in line.” “We should all line up,” he added. Prof O’Neill said he understood that people were anxious or were hesitant. The vaccine was very low risk.
“This is a very dangerous virus, we need to remember that all the time.”