Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health Dr Tony Holohan; ‘Worry Index’
Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said new research shows that people are feeling less worried about Covid-19 and warned this may cause them to drop their guard.
It follows the reporting of an additional 252 cases of the disease but no further coronavirus-related deaths.
Dr Tony Holohan said the latest study by Amárach showed that the worry level has reduced and is now similar to levels last seen in July.
A third of those surveyed said they thought the worst is yet to come but 28% believed the worst was behind us – which the National Public Health Emergency Team considers “significant” he told a media briefing.
Dr Holohan said: “It’s not that we want people to be worried but we do think there is a correlation between people’s level of concern and ultimately the behaviours that people exhibit.
“It can lead us to drop our guard from time to time in ways that we may not intend to.”
"The risk to people in this country is not arising today from the numbers coming through Dublin Airport, it's arising through all the things that are going on in this country" @CMOIreland says, adding international travel is a bigger factor when local transmission is lower. pic.twitter.com/ihywTkrSYI
From top: Christmas homecoming, Dublin Airport, 2018; Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, at the Department of Health briefing in Miesian Plaza last night
Christmas homecomings around the country’s airports are now in doubt as chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned the Covid-19 risks around international travel are still “very substantial” at this time.
Dr Holohan also cautioned parents about the risks of children from different families getting together for Halloween parties.
Asked about people travelling home for Christmas and families in different countries reuniting for the festive season, he said no specific consideration by his team has yet been given to it.
“Our advice is that the risk of non-essential travel outside this country is simply too high at this moment.”
From top: Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly; Chief Medical officer Dr Tony Holohan
Claims that Dr Tony Holohan, the Chief Medical Officer said he spoke to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly both before and after NPHET met on Sunday, need to be addressed, say opposition TDs.
Dr Holohan said Minister Donnelly had been “clear about the level of concern that I would have, and had”.
Tanaiste leo Varadkar among others expressed surprise when NPHET’s Level 5 recommendation was leaked.
Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson claimed that the Health Minister “allowed the impression to be formed that NPHET went on a solo run”.
Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said: “I am calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, to make a full statement of what he was told on Sunday morning and evening and what he did with that information.
“The country was distracted by an unseemly row between the Government and NPHET at precisely the moment when all attention should.”
Labour leader Alan Kelly (above) reiterated the calls for a Dáil statement from the minister, saying Minister Donnelly “must clear up this latest controversy”.
Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, waves at Green Party Leader Eamon Ryan today before a discussion between NPHET and the leaders of the three government parties concerning recommendation that the entire country be placed under a nationwide Level 5 lockdown to ‘combat rising cases of Covid-19’.
Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme yesterday, before any mention of Level 5, Mr Ryan said he hoped Level 4 restrictions could be avoided in Dublin and in Donegal, both of which are currently at Level 3.
“What we’re seeking to do is not to eradicate the virus, I don’t think that’s a viable option but to stabilise it and I think, yes, there’s real concern when you look at other counties [case numbers are] rising very fast.”
Leaving Level 5 discussions were, top from left: Dr Holohan; Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health; and Chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG) Professor Philip Nolan.
At the daily Department of Health press briefing, Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan was questioned at length by Irish Independent Political Editor Philip Ryan.
It followed a report by Mr Ryan on Tuesday that health officials had advised that people aged over-70 should continue cocooning in their homes until August. Mr Ryan reported that this advice was overruled by the Cabinet.
Mr Holohan has denied there was any such overruling and has previously said the report was inaccurate.
At the end of their exchange, Mr Holohan said:
“You’ve pointed to textual changes and you’ve placed an incorrect interpretation on them. That’s not the same as saying our advice was not accepted. It was accepted, it’s in the document, it’s clearly set out. And I don’t have a reservation about that.”
Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan (top) and Jemima Burke (in black polo and checked skirt) at yesterday’s press briefing; the late Sally Maaz
At the same briefing yesterday, and immediately after Mr Ryan’s exchange with Mr Holohan…
Jemima Burke: “Jemima Burke, Western News, Mr Holohan, in your statement today, you say we have to adapt to our behaviours in order to live safely with Covid-19.
“However there have been serious concerns raised over the safety of hospital wards at this time. Especially with the past few days. Sally Maaz was a 17-year-old Leaving Cert student who died in Mayo University Hospital on the 24th April. Her family have just released a statement around the circumstances of her death.
“The Maaz parents state that Sally Maaz was admitted to the Covid-19 hospital ward in Mayo University Hospital, although she was tested, she was admitted to the Covid-19 ward in that hospital, although she had tested negative twice for Coronavirus and had multiple health conditions, including a congenital heart defect.
“She died just days after being admitted. Her family were not permitted to visit her over a five-day period and eventually when she was finally tested positive after being in that ward, her parents were rang and told that she was given a few days to live.
“My question to you today is: can you confirm are hospital patients who have not tested positive for Covid-19, are they admitted to Covid-19 wards?”
Tony Holohan: “So I’m not going to comment on any individual case. I’m going to take the opportunity and you’re asking about a child to say, I’m not going to comment and discuss in public…”
Burke: “Her parents have released a statement around the circumstances of her death…”
Holohan: “I understand that and I don’t think you will reasonably expect me to comment on any of the circumstances around…I don’t have all the details in relation to it. This is a terrible tragedy for the family concerned. I’m not going to compound it by anything I would say.
“There are clear procedures in place to try to, in the hospital system, provide adequate and appropriate protection for people, separation of people in terms of risk of Covid…”
Ms Burke went on to question Mr Holohan at length, without giving him a chance to reply, before she was asked to leave.
RTÉ News is reporting that the Department of Health’s Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan is “in hospital for tests unrelated to Covid-19”.
It’s also reporting that Deputy Chief Medical Officer Ronan Glynn will temporarily take over from Mr Holohan “until his expected release tomorrow”.
We all hope @CMOIreland Tony Holohan is ok. It was a most worrying sight to see him hold his chest on live TV and clearly mouth that he wasn’t feeling well. We are deeply grateful to him and all his team and hopefully he’s alright now. #COVID19ireland