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29 May 2022

'We have to change our behaviour' - Perceiving the risk of Covid-19

'We will have to change our behaviour' - Perceiving the risk of Covid-19

The head of the Behavioral Research Unit at the ERSI, Pete Lunn said the current Covid situation is 'somewhat precarious'. 

Speaking on Newstalk today, Pete Lunn said: "The signaling that is coming out is essentially saying, can we take this idea of personal responsibility and take the idea of not imposing restrictions, and will that be sufficient?

"Can our own behavior be enough to limit this increase in cases, and in particular cases of serious disease?"

"If we don't want to go back to that world we will have to change our behaviour and do something about it as the disease is continuing to spread." he added.

The Behavioural Research Unit's data suggests people do not have an accurate perception of their own risky behaviour and that is 'important' as we are relying on individual behaviour to limit the risk therefore people need to perceive risk accurately. 

Mr. Lunn said the anonymous study asks people to assess the risk of their own behaviour and found that people associate risk with how many places they go to and the number of people they meet. 

"People are using the rule of thumb and saying if I meet a lot of people especially strangers, that is what determines my risk." he added. 

The data suggests people do not pay attention to day-to-day behaviour that can mitigate the rate of transmission such as being careful with hand hygiene, keeping extra distance, and wearing a mask.

"The actual perceptions of risk are not strongly connected to those behaviours." added Mr. Lunn. 

Infectious Disease Specialist, Professor Sam McConkey said the metrics of sickness such as daily hospitalization / ICU rates are 'important' and are 'flattening off'.

"The link between cases and hospitalizations is different from last January as more young people are getting Covid-19, and in January it was elderly people who were unvaccinated." added Mr. McConkey.

Professor Sam McConkey said it is important to continue listening to officials like Chief Medical Officer, Tony Holohan as we navigate the winter weeks ahead. 

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