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People who arrived from Britain after December 11 should eat Christmas dinner alone in their bedroom, HSE advises


Dr Colm Henry, HSE chief clinical officer (Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Dr Colm Henry, HSE chief clinical officer (Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Dr Colm Henry, HSE chief clinical officer (Photo: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland)

Advice to people who have arrived from the UK since December 11 to isolate for 14 days means they should eat Christmas dinner alone in their bedroom, the HSE has said today.

Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE Dr Colm Henry told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that the advice was “painful but necessary”.

Dr Henry said there will be enhanced checks on the 30,000 or so passengers that have arrived in Ireland from Britain since restrictions were lifted on December 8.

The CCO said people should remain in their bedrooms while quarantining at all times unless it’s absolutely necessary to leave.

Mr Henry pleaded with people who have arrived home from the UK to heed public health advice and “not be the agent of transmission” of the new strain of Covid-19 evident in London.

Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan confirmed health officials are examining contact tracing material of people who have travelled home from the UK in the last two weeks.

This comes after an Irish Examiner report that 24 people who have flown into Ireland from London since December 8 have since tested positive for Covid-19 and in the wake of a travel ban with Britain as a new variant of Covid-19, believed to be up to 70pc more transmissible, is spreading widely in London and other areas.

When Minister Ryan was asked on Morning Ireland does he really expect people coming home from the UK for Christmas to isolate for 14 days in a bedroom, he said: “It is very tough advice but we have to heed what they are saying. I expect that Irish people have done this. It’s not easy and is tough as can be.

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“The first time we became aware of this new variant was at the weekend and we acted immediately and enacted a 48-hour travel ban. We will go back and look at that contact tracing material since December 8.”

Government officials announced Level 5 restrictions yesterday and said they were operating under the assumption the new variant of the virus is already among our population.

An Taoiseach Micheál Martin yesterday said while there was no definitive proof the mutant strain was in Ireland, he admitted “it’s clear something is up” in response to the “extraordinary” growth in case numbers.

Minister Ryan said Irish people “have to have a New Year’s resolution for a safe January”.

“It (vaccination) will take time, just the logistics of getting to all of our people. In the meantime, we have to minimise the effects of the virus. Minimise deaths and infections and to get to that point where we are in a safer space.”

The Green Party leader confirmed the restrictions would stay in place until “we are in that safer place” and said government can’t give false expectation that restrictions will end on January 12.

“They will stay in place until we are in that safer place. You do have to monitor and review the situation, as we will on January 12, but I don’t think we can give false expectation that this is going to be a short three-week period.

“In likelihood, if we follow the trajectory of other European countries, it will have to go on for a further period of time,” Mr Ryan said.

The Green Party leader said Government would work with retailers to ensure sales do not attract big crowds in January and they will review guidelines if they see “any evidence that it [retail] is a source of transmission”.

“The evidence we have seen from previous lockdowns is that we don’t see incidence coming from the retail sector, it has by and large operated in a very safe and careful manner. On that basis, and also on the fact that 40,000 jobs would be lost immediately if we closed retail, but it was evidence based.”

Mr Ryan said gyms also exhibited very little previous incidence and it is part of the wider “balancing act” of a wider mental health requirement.

“In this difficult January ahead of us, to maintain our physical and mental health is what we need to do.”