The current level of COVID-19 is having a significant and sustained impact across all aspects of the health service, including in hospitals, Intensive Care Units (ICUs), public health, as well as the broader primary care services in the North East region.

Emerging infection figures for the North East continue to remain high.  The risk of the Omicron variant to public health is very high, and therefore likely to cause additional hospitalisations.

Vaccination remains the most effective protection against COVID-19 and always remains available for anyone who has not yet been vaccinated. Vaccines are proving highly effective in preventing deaths and serious illness from COVID-19.  We encourage everyone to “layer up” this Christmas by following all public health advice.

RSVP

Dr Augustine Pereira, Director of Public Health North East, encourages people to be risk aware, and think before they meet up with others  “our actions and adherence to the basics of mask wearing, hand washing and maintaining physical distance are within our control, and will make a difference in reducing the spread of the virus.  I encourage you to get familiar with the RSVP campaign that aims to empower people to assess the risk involved in different activities.

Risk: Am I vaccinated / have I received a booster? Am I more vulnerable than others? How long will I be there? Will the event be indoors? Will it be ventilated?

Symptoms: Do I have symptoms associated with COVID-19? If so, stay at home and arrange a PCR test.

Venue: Can I keep a safe distance from others, will it be crowded? Will I wear a mask?

People: How many people and households am I meeting?  Am I meeting vulnerable people? Are the people I meet vaccinated? The more people you meet the greater the risk.

With eight days to Christmas, let us redouble our efforts to protect ourselves and our families, and reduce our exposure to COVID-19

·         Avoid gatherings

·         Wear a mask, including in crowded outdoor areas

·         Clean your hands regularly

·         Get your booster vaccine when offered to you

For more information, go to www.hse.ie/coronavirus