Make leaving home with Covid symptoms as unacceptable as drink-driving – expert
A senior public health official in the Republic has said leaving home with Covid-19 symptoms should become as socially unacceptable as drink-driving.
Professor Philip Nolan warned of the dangers of mixing with others while having flu-like symptoms, urging people to err on the side of caution.
Prof Nolan, who chairs the Nphet Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said that while rising Covid-19 cases are a cause of concern, it is not a time for emergency measures.
He said indicators show case numbers have “quite suddenly” gone in the wrong direction.
“They have gone in the wrong direction at a particular rate. We are not sure what that rate is or for how long it will last,” Prof Nolan added.
“But I have no reason to believe we are in the territory of being concerned about the disease rapidly escalating out of control.”
He said the disease is spreading at a slow to moderate pace.
The vast majority of remaining Covid-19 restrictions are due to be lifted on October 22, with many in the night-time industry making plans to reopen.
Prof Nolan said experts will assess another week of data to understand where and why the disease is spreading.
“Let’s understand where it’s really going and why it is going there and then what measured response do we have to have to that,” he told RTE.
“This is a time for concern, it’s a time to think about our individual and collective behaviours. It doesn’t seem to me to be the time for some kind of emergency action like we would have needed back in October or January.”
He said the number of unvaccinated people in hospital with the disease is a “real concern”.
“Unvaccinated people are catching the disease, they are getting severe outcomes and spreading the disease, but the disease is also spreading subtly through the vaccinated population,” he added.
“I am appealing to people, let’s work together to vaccinate everybody who we can persuade to take the vaccine. Leaving your home with Covid-like or flu-like symptoms has to become socially unacceptable in the way that drink-driving has become socially unacceptable.
“It is dangerous now for people to mix where one of them has any kind of symptom, and we need to err on the side of caution here. You are better staying at home and working from home if you have anything that suggests you have this disease.
“You could infect that unvaccinated person.”
Micheal Martin said Covid-19 could have many twists and turns.
Asked about whether plans to reopen nightclubs next week could be postponed due to the rising case numbers, the Taoiseach said the scale of the spread will be assessed over the coming days.
Mr Martin said clarity will be given on next week’s plans.
“We are saying to people it has taken a turn, but the scale of that has to be assessed over the next couple of days and the impact of that and then we respond to that,” he added.
“I do accept, in terms of nightclubs, that there are some sectors in the economy that this creates huge challenges, of course it does, because people have been looking forward to a further relaxation of measures.
“But again, it’s Covid that is the problem here. We’ve got to take sensible decisions in relation to what the latest evidence is.”
He also said not every dining and drinking venue is adhering to vaccination certificate rules.
Mr Martin urged those in the hospitality sector to implement the system, and indicated that the use of Covid certificates could be extended beyond next week.
“There are some evidences coming back that not all establishments are doing and that would help a lot, even if existing sectors just continued on with applying the vaccination cert protocol before people are allowed in,” Mr Martin added.
“I think that’s something we need to redouble down on across the board.”