A “cultural change” is need in Irish society so it is considered “impolite” to go to work or school with symptoms that could be Covid, according to the Irish College of General Practitioners' Covid lead, Dr Nuala O’Connor.
It was important to protect the vulnerable in society, she said, so anyone experiencing symptoms should stay at home, and if they did need to go out they should wear a mask, she told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland.
While there were indications that infections from the BA2 variant had peaked, it was still important to stay at home if experiencing symptoms or if not boosted, she added.
When asked about proposals to reduce the number of isolation days, Dr O’Connor said there was new evidence about fewer days of isolation being sufficient and this had already happened in other jurisdictions.
However, she added she did not think there would be any announcement about such changes in Ireland in the near future.
The focus should remain on staying at home if experiencing symptoms and to get the booster vaccine, Dr O'Connor said.
Ireland had a good record on vaccination, but only 75 per cent of the population had received a booster and 50 per cent of seriously ill patients in ICU had not been vaccinated, she said.
Any respiratory illness, such as flu, was an inconvenience and did not carry the risk of serious illness, hospitalisation or death, but there were always vulnerable people in the community who did not have the same level of protection.
“As a society we need to protect these people” she urged. “Moving forward it is important to have a culture change.”