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05th Oct 2022

Ireland’s new chief medical officer issues winter advice as Covid cases rise

Stephen Porzio

Professor Breda Smyth has officially taken up the CMO role.

Professor Breda Smyth is to be appointed Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer, succeeding Tony Holohan, and the new CMO has issued fresh health advice to the public amidst a recent spike in Covid-19 cases.

Smyth has already been serving as interim CMO for the Department of Health since July after Holohan’s resignation.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced that Smyth will be taking up the role on a permanent basis on Wednesday (5 October), stating that the appointment followed an open competition that took place through the Top-Level Appointment Commission process.

Also on Wednesday, Smyth issued a statement addressing the current rise of Covid infection in the community, in which she urged the public to “stay well by being prepared for winter”.

Smyth said there were 405 confirmed cases of the virus in hospital on Wednesday morning – an increase of 23% from 329 cases last week on 28 September and an increase of 74% from 233 cases on 14 September.

“We have seen an average of 60 new Covid-19 hospitalisations per day observed in the last seven days,” Smyth added.

“Not all Covid-19 cases in hospital have been admitted due to their infection, but every additional Covid-positive patient adds to the strain on our hospital system as we enter what is expected to be an extremely busy period.

“As of 27 September, approximately 70% of cases hospitalised for Covid-19 were aged 65 years and older, and of these, more than one in four had not completed their primary Covid-19 vaccine course and approximately two in five had not yet received any booster vaccine.

“The scientific data tells us that the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines wanes over time, it is important to keep up to date with your vaccine schedule and make sure to receive a booster dose as soon as you are eligible.”

Smyth also noted that the HSE has begun to administer Covid booster vaccines and flu vaccines, stating:

“This is a great opportunity to top-up the protection Covid-19 vaccines offer while also receiving protection from the flu virus.

“Flu and Covid-19 vaccines are available from participating GPs and pharmacies and can be given at the same time.

“If you have not yet received a primary dose of Covid-19 vaccine, you can arrange to do so while also getting your flu vaccine.”

The CMO also stated that if people have any Covid symptoms, it is important they self-isolate until 48 hours after symptoms have substantially or fully resolved.

“Please, do not attend any social events, work, school or college if you have symptoms,” she added.

Smyth has specialised in public health for the last 16 years and was formerly Professor for Public Health Medicine in NUI Galway and Consultant in Public Health in HSE West.

Main image via Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie