A sharp drop in face mask wearing is seen as Covid-19 resurges with 63,954 new infections reported during St Patrick’s celebrations.
Hospitals are under extreme pressure with 1,308 patients testing positive for Covid-19, 49 of whom are critically ill in intensive care, the highest in almost a year.
This has led to many more cancellations of procedures for patients on the waiting list due to infection control measures at hospitals in Limerick, Donegal, Kerry and Dublin.
As government and health officials ruled out a return to restrictions for the time being, the ESRI Tracker survey — which has been measuring our behavior for over a year — showed how quickly people dropped face masks after they were no longer mandatory from February 28 were.
It showed a sharp drop in reported face mask wearing on public transport and in shops in the week after the mask ban was lifted.
Almost all meetings with close contacts are conducted without a face mask, which is particularly being pushed by colleagues in the workplace.
The ESRI survey found that only two-thirds of buyers and users of public transport wore a mask, despite public health strong advice to continue using it in these settings.
However, the lifting of restrictions has had a positive impact on the well-being of the nation.
It showed that well-being has risen for the first time this year, reaching its highest level since last summer. This was observed in all age groups but was most pronounced in those under 40 years of age.
More and more people are walking, running or cycling.
A majority of people rated their mental health as the same or better than before the pandemic, and fewer rated it as worse.
Over half of people say their social life is the same or better than before the pandemic. The survey found that the link between well-being and social life is particularly strong among young people.
The extent to which people felt lonely decreased significantly.
About half of people thought restrictions could return due to seasonal changes, but few believed they would be reinstated due to a surge in cases.
Overall, the extent to which people follow news surrounding Covid-19 continues to decrease.
The proportion of those who state that they rarely or never stick to basics such as keeping their distance, washing their hands or wearing a mouth and nose protector has increased significantly.
Overall concern about Covid-19 between March 1st and 9th has remained stable since late January, with one in four still very concerned.
Meanwhile, the percentage of the population that feels lonely has decreased significantly. Visiting outdoor places like parks is associated with less frequent feelings of loneliness.
The majority believes the government’s response to the pandemic is appropriate.
HSE chief Paul Reid yesterday urged those within the 700,000 group of people who are now ready for a Covid-19 booster shot to come forward. Some had been delayed due to Covid-19 infection earlier this year.
The booster vaccination still offers strong protection against serious diseases.
He said Omicron’s BA.2 sub-variant was highly transferrable.
About half of the patients hospitalized with Covid-19 were admitted for another illness rather than complications from the virus. But infection control measures and staff absences of over 4,000 are very disruptive.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/sharp-decline-in-use-of-face-masks-as-covid-cases-surge-41472401.html Sharp decline in face mask use as Covid cases rise