James Ward and Dominic McGrath, PA
The chief medial officer has urged people to meet only those they plan to spend Christmas Day with in the coming days in a bid to cut social contacts.
Dr Tony Holohan also made a plea to young people to reduce their social contacts as the incidence rate in the young adult population continues to rise, with the Omicron variant now accounting for two thirds of new cases in the State.
“I would urge all parents, guardians and extended friends and family to support the young people in your lives to reduce their contacts,” Dr Holohan added.
“I know that this is not an easy task for any of us and it can feel very unfair that we continue to ask so much of our young people, particularly at this special time of year.
“This group have made significant sacrifices in order to protect loved ones and I would like to thank them for that.
“It is important now that we continue to encourage and support each other to make sacrifices, take responsible actions and continue to follow the public health advice.
“This week, try and only meet with the people with whom you will spend Christmas Day. Keep your contacts as low as possible in order to protect those around you.”
Dr Holohan also said that around one in six young people have yet to come forward for vaccination or are not fully vaccinated.
“Public health teams are reporting a higher level of infection among household close contacts as a result of Omicron infection,” Dr Holohan added.
“If there is one positive test, whether from a PCR or an antigen test, within a group such as a household then there is a significant chance that others are already infected, even if not yet testing positive.
“If one person from a household tests positive prior to an event or gathering, then none should attend.”
Earlier, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly confirmed the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) have recommended that the period between a person testing positive for the virus and receiving their booster jab would now be reduced to three months.
Previous guidance stated such people were not eligible to receive the additional dose until six months had passed from the point they contracted the virus.