Supports for those self-isolating due to Covid-19 in Ireland could be enhanced to aid compliance, according to the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA).
The health watchdog undertook a review of supports available to those restricting their movements or self-isolating in some 19 countries, finding those available in Ireland to be “equal or better” than its peers.
However, after assessing the effectiveness of different measures - such as financial support or support with everyday tasks such as food shopping - in improving compliance, HIQA has advised the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) that supports could be expanded.
Dr Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s deputy CEO, said: “Self-isolation and restriction of movement are the keys to breaking chains of transmission in this pandemic.
“The supportive measures we currently have in place in Ireland are necessary, appropriate and need to stay in place.
“However, given the high rate of transmission within households, consideration should be given to expanding the use of Community Call to support those who are in self-isolation or restricting their movements. Community Call could provide assistance, if needed, with obtaining essential items such as food, medicines and medical masks.
“Extending the provision of alternative accommodation for those who cannot effectively self-isolate or restrict their movements at home would also be another way to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”
HIQA also recommended the further development of web applications that can help people identify social and financial supports for their situation.
Track and trace staff could also help direct people to the resources available to them, the watchdog said.
Dr Ryan continued: “As case numbers lower in the community, the use of universal, comprehensive support packages should be considered for individuals who are self-isolating and restricting their movements.
“Individuals should use the available information to develop a plan for their household should the need to self-isolate or restrict movements arise.”
Restricting movements means “staying at home” as a precautionary measure, in case someone has Covid-19 after potentially being exposed to the virus.
“Self-isolation” applies to those with symptoms of, or diagnosed with Covid-19, and means “staying in your room” to prevent transmission to other people, including those in your household.