NPHET to give formal advice to Government on Christmas in two weeks

NPHET will give formal advice to Government on Christmas in two weeks time, on November 26th, Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said on Thursday night


He also recommended in the same press briefing that people should not travel home for Christmas as it could cause avoidable outbreaks of Covid-19 in the country.

“Travel that would normally happen at Christmas would have to be regarded as non-essential this Christmas,” he said.

He reiterated the public health guidance that all but essential travel should be avoided.

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“People potentially coming back for the Christmas period are experiencing a much higher level of infection. That will be one of the most significant risks for us if we make the progress we hope to make," he continued.

He explained that Ireland’s improving transmission rates in the community has shifted the concern to cases that could be imported due to international travel, saying that when infection rates were higher in Ireland, someone was more likely to catch the virus in their community than through international travel, which may no longer be the case.

The shift will now invariably turn to international travel with Christmas being six weeks away, but the CMO added that NEPHET would be issuing their official Christmas guidelines to Government in two weeks, which would include recommendations on travel withing Ireland over the festive period.

"Too soon"

The CMO's comments come after Tánaiste Leo Varadkar advising people to hold off on booking flights home for Christmas.

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Speaking in the Dáil, Mr Varadkar said it was "too soon" for people to start booking flights to Ireland.

"I think in terms of people booking flights for Christmas to come home, I'd advise them not to do that at the moment.

"I know that’s difficult, I know that’s tough, but Christmas is six weeks away and it is too soon now for people to be booking flights to come home."

He added that there was a danger that international travel could lead to a surge in Covid-19 infections.

The Government have been accused of delivering "mixed messages" in regards to the Christmas period so far.

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