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Being in office daily is bigger COVID risk than occasional nightclub visit, expert says

It comes as the Government prepares to consider advice from health officials to ask people to work from home where possible.
Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.54 12 Nov 2021


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Being in office daily is bigge...

Being in office daily is bigger COVID risk than occasional nightclub visit, expert says

Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

10.54 12 Nov 2021


Share this article


Going to the office daily is a "bigger risk" than an occasional trip to a nightclub, according to an infectious diseases expert.

Dr Eoghan de Barra says it's important to find ways where "some elements of life can continue" while still limiting the impact of COVID-19.

Next week, Government's expected to consider NPHET's advice around recommending people work from home where possible.

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Business group ISME has raised concerns about a potential return to full remote working, suggesting it would be a step backwards.

Dr Eoghan de Barra is an Infectious Diseases consultant working in Beaumont Hospital, as well as the secretary of the Infectious Diseases Society of Ireland.

He told Newstalk Breakfast it's important to consider "the people you're regularly in contact with".

Being in office daily is bigger COVID risk than occasional nightclub visit, expert says

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He said: "The nightclub certainly is going to be some element of transmission... but the day in, day out working with ten people in an office is a bigger risk.

"We’re trying to come up with some ways that some elements of life can continue, but we limit the impact of this.

“Nothing saves lives like 'don’t meet people' - but which way we don’t meet people or which way we limit it is the hard bit."

Dr de Barra says he "doesn't really understand" why rapid antigen testing hasn't been rolled out more widely.

He said: "This is an area where population is leading Government.

“I’m at a bit of a loss as to why exactly it hasn’t been implemented. There certainly are issues it… but if there’s any way you can detect a case before they mix with others, it’s a useful tool.”

Burden on hospitals

NPHET and Government officials have ruled out a full return to lockdown, despite continuing high number of COVID-19 cases.

However, they have urged people to cut back on their number of social contacts for now.

Hospital numbers have remained high, with 549 patients with COVID-19 currently being treated in hospitals - including 97 in ICU.

Dr de Barra said hospitals aren't overwhelmed, but it is "really busy".

He said: "We’re seeing the burden rise. With nearly 30% of ICU being a single disease… that’s just massive.

"Staff are exhausted and fatigued, and we’re all really tired of COVID. But some people can turn it off, whereas if you work in healthcare you’re living and breathing it every day.

“We’re all really concerned about the next few weeks and how much more work is going to have to be put in.”

He said the healthcare system is still functioning, but the current COVID-19 burden does mean elective procedures are being cancelled in some hospitals.

He said there is a way through the current surge, "but it's not easy".

Main image: File photo. Contributor: Kay Roxby / Alamy Stock Photo

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