The HSE is asking people in the north west to avoid attending social settings such as workplaces, schools or childcare facilities, if they have respiratory symptoms.
“The West and North West regions are seeing a significant rise in respiratory infections which is having a severe impact on our health service, which is experiencing one of the busiest ever periods,” a spokesperson for the health authority said.
The HSE has been notified of 390 COVID-19 cases and 348 flu cases in week ending December 31, in counties Galway, Roscommon, Mayo, Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim.
Covid-19 and Flu are widely circulating in the community, which means outbreaks are more likely to occur in busy settings, including hospitals and long-term care facilities.
“To be protected, we ask that everyone keeps up-to-date with their vaccines. It’s not too late for people to get their flu vaccine if eligible, as we expect the flu to continue circulating for the next 4-6 weeks. Vaccination is an effective, safe way to protect you and people around you from Flu or Covid-19.”
The flu vaccine is available from your GP or pharmacies. There is also a free nasal spray flu vaccine for children aged 2-17, administered in each nostril. The vaccine is absorbed quickly and not painful. Please note the children’s nasal spray flu vaccine is only available until 23rd January.
Those eligible for their Covid-19 booster vaccine can book an appointment online at HSE vaccination clinics or visit participating pharmacies and GPs.
Dr Áine McNamara, Area Director of Public Health Area F, said: “As expected, Healthcare settings are extremely busy due to the unprecedented combination of very high levels of flu, Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses in the community. To protect yourself and others avail of COVID-19 and flu vaccines if you’re eligible, and stay at home if unwell. It is very important to avoid visiting healthcare and long-term residential settings if unwell.”
Take these extra actions to avoid respiratory infection:
– Avoid touching your mouth, nose and eyes
– Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue or your elbow
– Get your flu and Covid-19 vaccine if eligible
– Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – especially after using the bathroom, blowing your nose, and before eating
– Wear a face mask in crowded areas
– Clean and disinfect objects and surfaces regularly
– Consider meeting outdoors in the fresh air as there is greater risk of infection in enclosed places
What to do if you have symptoms:
– Stay at home when you are sick
– Stay away from those who are vulnerable
– Contact your GP if you need advice on how to manage your symptoms
For more information you can call HSELive on 1800 700 700 or visit www.hse.ie