HSE warns of ‘critical’ virus situation in hospitals

There are 650 Covid-19 patients receiving some level of critical care, according to the Chief Executive Officer of the HSE.

Paul Reid said there are 214 people in ICU and 436 receiving advanced respiratory support.

He said teams are “battling to hold the levels of care that we value” and “to save lives”.

Meanwhile, the majority of residents of long term care homes and half of all frontline healthcare workers are due to have receive their first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine by the end of today. 

Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan said Ireland was beginning to flatten the curve of infection but the country faces restrictions until at least June as concern grows about the impact of new variants of the virus and delays in supplies of vaccines. 

The number of new cases has fallen below 2,000 for the first time since 1 January.

Last night, there were 77 more coronavirus-related deaths reported by the Department of the Health, with 76 of these occurring this month.

The median age of those who died is 84 years and the age range is from 43 to 98 years old.

There have now been 2,947 Covid-19 related deaths since the outbreak began last year.

The Department also reported 1,910 new cases of Covid-19, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 186,184.

57% of the confirmed cases are in people under the age of 45, while the median age of confirmed cases is 40.

710 of the cases are in Dublin, with 150 in Cork, 103 in Meath, 102 in Limerick and 86 in Louth. The remaining 759 cases are spread across all other counties.

There are 1,892 people with the virus being treated in hospital, with 217 of those receiving treatment in intensive care units.

The national 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 people has fallen to 955.5. The highest rate is in Co Monaghan (1,787.1) and the lowest rate is in Co Leitrim (318.3).

Dr Holohan, has said that “through the solidarity shown by families and communities across the country in recent weeks, we are beginning to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infection.”

The level of Covid-19 infections in Irish hospitals is “out of control”, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has said.

The union is calling for upgraded safety standards “immediately” to bring the situation under control.

In a statement, the INMO said that nearly 2,000 healthcare workers have caught Covid-19 over two weeks in outbreaks directly traced to their workplaces.

They said that between 6 and 19 January there have been 5,403 reported healthcare workers infected with the virus, with 1,957 confirmed as having been infected in a healthcare setting.

This week, Cabinet is expected to discuss ways to reopen education as well as enforcing stricter measures around foreign travel.

The Taoiseach has indicated restrictions are expected to stay in place for the first half of this year and all schoolchildren are not expected to be back in classrooms by St Patrick’s Day.

The European Medicines Agency is due to meet on Friday where it is hoped it will give the green light to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Taoiseach has said he expects robust engagement between the European Commission and the company about a shortfall in its supply of the vaccine to the EU.