Chief Medical Officers (CMOs) Dr. Tony Holohan in the Republic of Ireland and Dr. Michael McBride in Northern Ireland have released a joint statement urging people to stay at home due to the ongoing pandemic.

Dr. Holohan and Dr. McBride said in a joint statement issued on January 15: “As CMOs, we are gravely concerned about the unsustainably high level of COVID-19 infection we are experiencing on the island of Ireland. 

“This is having a significant impact on the health of our population and the safe functioning of our healthcare systems.

“Unfortunately, due to the surge of infections we have experienced over the past few weeks, we have seen an increase in mortality figures and our health systems have been placed under immense pressure. We are likely to see ongoing increases in hospitalisations, ICU admissions, and mortality in the weeks ahead.”

Both CMOs are strongly urging everyone to stay at home except for essential reasons and to avoid all unnecessary journeys, including cross-border travel.

They said: “Many of the patients admitted to hospital in January have been under the age of 65 years. COVID-19 can affect us all, regardless of age or underlying condition. It highlights the need for us all to protect one another by staying at home. Not only will you keep yourself and your loved ones safe, but also help to save lives and avoid more preventable COVID-19 admissions to our currently struggling healthcare systems.

“We will continue to work together to protect public health across the island, as we have done throughout this pandemic, but we need everyone to play their part by staying at home and protecting themselves and their communities.”

Dr. McBride and Dr. Holohan issued a similar statement in September.

The same day that this new joint statement was issued, Northern Ireland reported 26 more deaths and 1,052 newly-confirmed cases in the region. New data for the Republic of Ireland was not yet available, but on January 14, the country reported 28 more deaths and 3,955 new cases.

In Northern Ireland, the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and the Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccines have been approved for use, while in the Republic of Ireland, the Pfizer / BioNTech and the Moderna vaccines have been approved.

Both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are currently under lockdown restrictions.