The Department of Public Health Mid-West is urging the people of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary to avoid large social gatherings of any kind for New Year’s celebrations.
There is a growing concern over the impact of Christmas celebrations on the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
There have been more than 800 COVID-19 cases in the Mid-West over the past two weeks, the vast majority of which were recorded in Limerick.
The HSE has also confirmed that almost 14% of people in Clare called for a Covid test, did not turn up on the day. A total of 107 people of 780 did not attend for their test on December 24th, 26th, 27th and 28th.
In December, due to the nature of the festive season, we saw three weeks of increased level of social gatherings from multiple households which had intensified in the lead up to the Christmas break.
Our preliminary evidence indicates that gatherings among extended families, in private households, organised events, and in the hospitality sector have been contributing factors in outbreaks locally.
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: “We know that the virus has been widely circulating for nearly four weeks in the community, and spreading through these extended social gatherings in the lead up to Christmas.
“However, while we continue to closely monitor the possible impact of Christmas celebrations, we fear that large household gatherings in recent days may have added an extra layer to what is already a complex situation locally.
“We do not want a situation whereby new household cases bring undetected COVID-19 to new settings in the community over the coming days. This would make complex outbreaks increasingly more difficult to manage. Every effort to follow public health guidelines can and will prevent serious illness and will protect our most vulnerable, particularly as the winter days grow colder,” Dr Mannix said.
Public Health Mid-West is asking people to answer phone calls from contact tracers, who are making every effort to track the spread of COVID-19.
We are also urging members of the public who have arranged a COVID-19 swab to attend the test centre and at the allotted time, as we continue to see many people missing their appointments.
Between December 24 and December 28, a total of 960 people did not attend their scheduled appointment at the test centres in the Mid-West.