WITH CHRISTMAS just around the corner, Ireland's health experts are warning the public to keep their number of contacts as low as possible.
Under public health regulations, anyone who is identified as a close contact of a Covid-19 case must self-isolate for 14 days.
This means that anyone who is identified as being a close contact, from now, would have to self-isolate throughout the Christmas period, including Christmas Day.
Ireland's Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan, yesterday urged the public to keep themselves and people around them safe by limiting their contacts.
"Tomorrow marks 14 days to Christmas Day," Dr Holohan stated at a press briefing.
"To ensure the safest possible interaction with your family over Christmas, consider restricting your movements now.
"Risk assess the environments you plan to be in over the next two weeks; are they compliant with public health measures? Can you keep a two metre distance? Are people wearing face coverings?
"Now is the time to make decisions about what interactions are necessary and pose the lowest risk to you, your family and friends over Christmas."
His comments come as a further 310 new Covid-19 cases were identified in the community, along with 15 deaths.
The new figures bring the total number of coronavirus cases in Ireland to 75,2013, after 7 previous cases were de-notified.
2,117 people have now passed away with the disease.
202 people are in hospital with the virus, with 36 receiving treatment in Intensive Care Units.
Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said the reproduction number in Ireland is now estimated to be close to 1.0, and said this was "a testament to the very large number of people who continue to limit their contacts and follow public health advice.
"Please be mindful that this remains a very dangerous virus, especially for vulnerable and older persons," he added.
"We have the know-how and the determination to keep suppressing this disease, to protect our family and friends over Christmas."
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn asked that the public does not become complacent just because there has been a breakthrough with vaccines, stating:
"A vaccine will have no positive impact on the trajectory of this disease over the coming weeks and does not give immunity to people over the Christmas period.
"We must not allow COVID-19 to spread through our communities now, after all the efforts we have made throughout 2020 and how close we are to beginning to vaccinate."