‘You’re at risk every time you leave home’

The HSE says…‘You’re at risk every time you leave home’
Dr. Breda Smyth, Director of Public Health in the West

With the current level of community transmission in County Roscommon, we must consider that every time we go outside our house and garden it’s actually a risk. The best thing we can do to halt transmission is to stay at home and only leave for essential shopping and medicines and essential trips.

It’s also important that every time we do have to leave our homes that we take every precaution possible. Every contact we have and everything we touch is a possible transmission risk. Wear a mask, stay two at least two metres apart, and continually wash your hands.

Anyone who shows any symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 must isolate immediately and contact their GP.

There are clear guidelines as how to isolate within a household and while it is challenging, it’s important to follow public health guidelines to stop the spread. It involves staying within one room and having your meals delivered to you but it is necessary to prevent transmission to loved ones.

The infection rate tells us how many people are positive with Covid-19 but it doesn’t tell us how severely ill those people are. It can take seven to ten days for people to get very sick and severely ill requiring hospital admission.

There is a very significant threat on our hospitals with the levels of infection we are currently seeing in the community.

This past year has been unimaginable for everyone, particularly younger people. Their lives have been completely taken away from them in many ways. But I do think we can underestimate the severity of how bad the Covid infection can be. We have seen examples of this through case studies in the media of young people getting very sick and requiring hospitalisation, and this does happen.

With the level of infection among young people at an unprecedented high level, there is going to be a proportion of those young people who get very, very sick.

Also, for every single person who gets infected there is a chance of passing that infection on to loved ones, who may be older or vulnerable of who may have a chronic condition. It’s really important that the most vulnerable can access hospital care. Increasing case numbers will also increase demand on the health care system. It intensifies the burden on the hospital system to a level where there is a question of whether it can deal with the demand in the coming weeks.

Our actions now can halt this growth in infections and allow the more vulnerable in our communities that might require hospitalisation or intensive treatment to get that treatment. It’s up to us to do everything we can so that we don’t get to that crisis situation and so that everyone can be cared for in the fashion that we’re used to in Ireland.