It ‘shouldn’t be socially acceptable’ to be coughing and spluttering in public while COVID and winter bugs are doing the rounds, according to an infectious disease expert.
Under current public health advice, anyone who picks up a virus or respiratory illness should stay at home until their symptoms are gone for two days.
People who are under 55 and do not have an immune illness do not need to test for COVID – but should not be out an about until they feel better.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, Beaumont Hospital Infectious Diseases Consultant Eoghan De Barra urged people to stay at home when sick.
“I think we used to have the kind of the COVID glare, when people were coughing and spluttering and people really noticed,” he said. “Maybe that’s what we need to bring back in.
“It shouldn’t be socially acceptable to be doing that in any instance because that will just spread to other people.”
Also on the show, IMO chair Dr Denis McCauley said that while we are now at the time of year where doctors see lots of respiratory illnesses – this year is no worse than anything we saw pre-COVID.
He said the pandemic has changed the way we think about being sick – and said anyone who feels unwell should stay at home.
“Whether it is a respiratory virus, whether it is influenza or whether it is COVID, just stay at home until you’re better for two days,” he said. “That’s the sensible approach – don’t come in coughing and sneezing."
He said attitudes in the workplace have also changed – noting that being careful is being “respectful” to your colleagues.
“Before COVID, we were just told to motor on and I think it is a good idea now to stay at home,” he said.
“COVID is still here and it is still an infection you don’t want to get.”
Both men joined the show amid reports that just 15% of healthcare workers have come forward for their second booster shot.
Dr McCauley said the figures do not tell the whole story, as the shot has only been available since September and many workers are waiting to get their COVID and flu shots at the same time.
He also noted that the healthcare sector has seen high numbers of cases recently – and anyone who has recovered from the virus cannot get the shot for 120 days.
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