Potentially 'hundreds or thousands of cases in January' if people fly home for Christmas

Health officials have urged people to focus on the basics in order to combat the spread of Covid-19, and have also reiterated their message Irish living abroad should avoid coming home this Christmas, as a large influx of visitors to the country in the coming weeks could result in a surge in cases in the new year

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn said they are concerned about the rise in cases, and said there was only "a short period of time to turn this around".

There have been five further coronavirus-related deaths and 456 new cases over the past 24 hours, with the 5-day average at 430 cases per day (last week it was 350 cases per day).

He said he wanted to implore people not to focus on Christmas unduly or 'levels' but to focus on the basics. "We need people to stop coming into contact with each other."


And in terms of Christmas, he has reiterated the message by said by Leo Varadkar and Dr Tony Holohan last week, saying that it would ultimately be too dangerous for people to fly home for the festive season.

“We do not want people asymptomatic people who feel completely well coming home to this country to meet their loved ones, to interact with their extended families across generations, older people, younger people, people with medical conditions, we don’t want thousands of people doing that, resulting in hundreds or thousands of cases in January, and deaths and morbidity and mortality in January in February,” he said.

“We know it’s a really difficult message, but ultimately, in my opinion, it comes back to people’s willingness to listen to the advice.”

“We need people to be able to listen to the advice and make judgements based on their own family circumstances, their own personal circumstances,” he added.

“And I think in the vast majority cases people will decide for this year it’s simply not worth it.”

It follows the news that NPHET will give formal advice to Government on Christmas in less than two weeks time, on November 26th. 

“Travel that would normally happen at Christmas would have to be regarded as non-essential this Christmas,” CMO Dr Tony Holohan said last week.


“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 said.

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