Dr Anthony Breslin, Director of Public Health has asked the people of Donegal to think carefully about the number of people they see in the run-up to Christmas Day.
He said that as we approach Christmas, it’s more important than ever that we all limit the number of contacts we have with others.
He added “Not only does this keep ourselves and others safe, it also reduces the possibility that we will be a close contact of someone who has Covid-19.
“Therefore we need to restrict our movements over the Christmas and New Year period. We must remain vigilant to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
The latest national data published last night highlights that the number of cases is increasing more rapidly than had been anticipated.
This increase in cases is particularly worrying in the context of inter-generational mixing over the Christmas period.
Dr Breslin added “We have seen the 7-day incidence rate for people aged 19-44 more than double since 11th December from 106 per 100,000 population to 217 per 100,000. We are really concerned that if these younger people come into contact with their loved ones over the age of 65, we could see an increase in infections in this more vulnerable group with a subsequent increase in the number of patients requiring hospitalisation.
“The more risks people take and the more people they meet can have a really significant impact on the spread of COVID 19 – this is particularly important if people have been socialising in the past few weeks or over this weekend, and plan to meet family over 65 later this week.
“If you take a risk today, tomorrow, or over the next few days, then you are taking that risk on behalf of anyone you see over the Christmas and New Year period. Think about the impact that being diagnosed with Covid-19 would have on those close to us.”
If people are meeting on Christmas Day there are a number of important measures that should be in place if possible:
* Try encourage guests to use hand sanitiser or to wash their hands when they arrive at your home or do so when you arrive at someone else’s home.
* Limit contact -Try to avoid hugs, kisses and handshakes as people arrive; Don’t share items like crockery and glassware and avoid sharing food and buffet style set ups.
* Give a little extra space – Try to allow extra space at the dinner table – extra distance between settings will make sure everyone is comfortable and keeps safe and people from the same households should sit together
* Remember to wear a mask when cooking and serving food and limit the amount of people in the kitchen
* Keep your home and spaces where people are gathering ventilated, keep windows and doors open where possible and try get out for a walk or spend some time in the fresh air.
“I know that this will be a very different Christmas and people are making huge sacrifices to protect their loved ones. We know that the vaccine will be rolled out shortly so it is really important that we continue to do all we can to protect our most vulnerable,” added Dr Breslin.