Delay Christmas until January for normality and a ‘real party,' immunologist says

ireland
Delay Christmas Until January For Normality And A ‘Real Party,' Immunologist Says Delay Christmas Until January For Normality And A ‘Real Party,' Immunologist Says
Christmas lights on Dublin's Henry Street during the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins.
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By Vivienne Clarke

Extending current lockdown restrictions and delaying the celebration of Christmas until the end of January could allow for a "real Christmas," an immunologist has said.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Dr Tomás Ryan warned the country could find itself back at 1,000 cases a day by January if Level 5 restrictions were lifted as planned on December 1st.

It was not going to be worth it to end up in another lockdown in January or early February and such a scenario should be prevented in any way it could, the Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Immunology at Trinity College said.

“Even if we get down to 100 cases a day on December 1st, it seems to me it would be much more profitable and pleasant for everyone in Ireland if we got cases down to single figures or to zero and then kept them there so that we could open up and stay open for as long as possible,” he said.

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We can return to a normality... which would mean Level 1 or Level 0 restrictions by January, if we get rid of this now

Ireland could be in the same situation as Australia, which he described as “wonderful”, if the current lockdown was maintained for longer.

“I think we can return to a normality that is quite like life right now in most of Australia by early January, which would mean Level 1 or Level 0 restrictions by January, if we get rid of this now,” Dr Ryan said.

“One way of doing this would be to delay Christmas until the end of January and have a real Christmas and a real party then.”

Heavy price

Extending Level Five for at least a few weeks would be in everyone’s best interests, he said. The Government had not communicated “reasonable expectations” of what Christmas was going to be like.

“It is certainly not going to be anything like the Christmases we normally have anyway. The important thing is, we are all in lockdown now, we are paying a heavy price anyway and we want to make sure we get the right benefit from it,” Dr Ryan said.

“But the issue is not just about lockdown, lockdown is the last line of defence. We’ve learnt now that most of the Covid-19 in Ireland today was not a variant that was here before the summer. Most of it came from international travel.”

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The one thing that we could do as a society is not to return to unregulated home gatherings

Infectious diseases expert Professor Paddy Mallon also warned this morning that the Irish public need to “sit back and think about what they want from Christmas” as they are not going to have a “normal” one.

Speaking on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show, Prof Mallon said that if people started to “go out” and have close contacts that would lead to a repeat of the situation the country was in at the end of October.

People should plan what they want from Christmas and then fit those plans around public health regulations, he suggested. Where people have contacts they should make them as safe as possible.

An examination of data from October showed that Covid-19 outbreaks were happening within the home. “The one thing that we could do as a society is not to return to unregulated home gatherings. That’s where a lot of cases were coming from.”

There was a need “to dig down into cases as they develop” to see if they were arising outside the home. The hospitality industry had been very responsible in their approach and it would be necessary “to see what works and what doesn’t work,” said Prof Mallon.

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