"First glimmer of hope" in COVID cases - CMO

However situation in hospitals worsening
  • Deborah Condon

Almost 5,000 more cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, as well as eight more deaths.

According to the Department of Health's chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan, "we are seeing the first glimmer of hope in respect of our daily figures and positivity rates". However, he also warned that the situation in hospitals and ICUs nationwide "continues to worsen day on day".

A total of 4,929 cases were confirmed on Monday evening, bringing the total number of cases here to 152,539. The number of deaths now stands at 2,352.

Of the 4,929 cases, 1,513 occurred in Dublin, 695 in Cork, 320 in Limerick, 305 in Wexford and 225 in Galway. Almost 60% of these cases were under the age of 45.

Dr Holohan noted that while the daily case numbers may finally start to come down in the coming days, hospitals are facing an extremely difficult time ahead.

"We know that hospitalisations occur some weeks after a confirmed case is notified, and mortality after that again. That means we are unfortunately set for a period of time where the situation in our hospitals gets worse before it gets better," he explained.

He again encouraged people to stay at home and "cut your contacts right down to only those in your immediate household".

According to Dr Michael Power, the HSE's clinical lead for intensive care,
over the past few weeks, there has been a "swift and sharp spike in admissions" into critical care units nationwide.

"As of Monday morning, we have 146 people sadly in ICU. This is nearing the springtime peak of 155 people in critical care. The potential long-term impacts on these patients' health is stark and significant.

"ICUs are not where we want anyone to be. They are our very last line of defence against COVID-19. The best way we can protect our ICU capacity and those that work in them is to stay at home," Dr Power said.

According to Prof Philip Nolan, chair of NPHET's Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, the current level of disease is "unprecedented in terms of our experience of the levels of COVID-19 in the community".

"We are seeing numbers of cases per day, and numbers in hospital, that we just could not have comprehended prior to Christmas. The tools to address this accelerated growth rate are in our hands and we know from experience how we can significantly suppress transmission of the virus.

"We are beginning to see the first signs of the impact of the latest public health measures, with test positivity falling and case numbers starting to stabilise, but this will only continue if every one of us is committed to following the public health advice to stay at home and work from home as much as possible," he commented.

Meanwhile, Dr Cillian De Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory, said that the UK variant continues to account for a growing number of COVID cases in Ireland.

"Further testing of COVID-19 samples indicates that the UK variant continues to account for an increasing number of cases. More than 40% of the positive cases tested in the last seven days can be traced back to this variant.

"The greater risk of infection posed by this new variant increases the risk of transmission of the disease in the community. However, this virus cannot spread when households do not mix together, when social gatherings do not occur and when people stay at home for all but essential reasons," he noted.

Ireland is currently at level 5 of the Government's COVID action plan. For more on this, click here.


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