Close contacts of Covid cases may have to restrict movements over Christmas
New measures being considered by NPHET could have a major impact on Christmas socialising.
Close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases may be required to restrict their movements over the Christmas period, in a proposed amendment to current public health guidelines.
At present, if a fully vaccinated individual is declared a close contact of a confirmed Covid case and the case in question is a non-household close contact, they do not have to restrict their movements.
This aspect could potentially change in line with new measures being considered by the National Public Health and Emergency Team (NPHET), according to RTÉ News.
Should this come into play, close contacts would be asked to stay at home over Christmas.
With less than two weeks until Christmas, a high level of socialising is anticipated across the country as the Omicron variant continues to emerge.
On Tuesday evening, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan said that Omicron likely accounts for 14% of Ireland's current Covid-19 cases.
Holohan made the comments as 3,887 new cases of the virus were confirmed in the country.
As of 8am on Tuesday, 493 patients with the virus are hospitalised, of which 109 are in intensive care.
Speaking on Newstalk on Wednesday morning, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that he expects NPHET to recommend a tightening of restrictions later this week.
“I would expect more recommendations around the management of close contacts, recommendations to decrease the amount of social mixing, and recommendations around international travel,” the Tánaiste said.
Varadkar said that he hoped that businesses would not be required to close due to restrictions, but that they would do so if necessary.
"If it is the case restrictions are required to protect life and public health then that’s what we will do," he said.
Varadkar had met with NPHET ahead of their regular meeting on Thursday.
He shared his concern about the potential impact of the Omicron variant on rising case numbers in the country.
“We’re winning the battle against the Delta, we’re doing better than the most optimistic models," he said.
“But there is a new variant in the world and that is likely to cause an additional wave of infection in the next couple of weeks."
Following the Tánaiste's interview, RTÉ News reported that new restrictions on international travel are not set to be introduced.