People warned to be mindful of their contacts if meeting vulnerable person this Christmas

People warned to be mindful of their contacts if meeting vulnerable person this Christmas

Pictured today in Dr Steevens Hospital are (l to r) Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer, HSE; Paul Reid, CEO, HSE; and Anne O’Connor, Chief Operations Officer, HSE addressing the media during the weekly HSE operational update on the response to Covid-19. Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

The HSE has appealed to people to make sensible decisions in the run up to Christmas.

Speaking at a press briefing on Thursday afternoon, Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry warned people to be vigilant ahead of visiting a vulnerable person this Christmas.

Dr Henry said that being mindful of “intergenerational transfer” is important at a time when families come together.

“If you know you're going to meet someone at Christmas who is vulnerable, whether by age or by illness, you really do have a responsibility between now and then to make sure that you don’t contract the virus and take every effort not to, and that includes reducing the number of contacts, operating from a pod if you can, avoiding congregated tight indoor settings where the virus can transmit easily.

“If there's someone you know you're going to meet on Christmas Day, when you meet them, give them the assurance that you behaved as responsibly as you could have in the run up to Christmas knowing that you were going to meet them,” he said.

The Chief Executive of the HSE Paul Reid echoed Dr Henry’s advice and asked people to be particularly mindful of healthcare workers in families and in homes.

“The last thing we want to do is get our healthcare workers impacted or affected and have to restrict their movements or indeed having to isolate,” he said.

Dr Henry also confirmed that testing and contact tracing will continue throughout the Christmas period.

He said that historically, people delay presentation of illness over Christmas but warned that people experiencing symptoms should not wait to be tested.

“We don’t want people to wait or sit on Covid-like symptoms over the Christmas period”, he said, but instead want people to test early so they can be identified, isolated and contact traced.

Mr Reid said although the health service is heading into the Christmas period in a much stronger position than it would have in the past due to supports in place to deal with the pandemic, a high number of cases with a high number of contacts coming together at a time when there is peak demand for health services should be avoided.

He said that there is “no doubt” that the vaccine will be “good for the health service, the economy and society and the public wellbeing”, but said that people must continue to adhere to public health restrictions.

Mr Reid said the high level task force preparing for the rollout of the vaccine has been meeting to finalise an overall strategy with a plan due to be presented to Taoiseach Micheál Martin and the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly tomorrow.

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