Monday, August 23, 2021

Vivienne Clarke

There have been an additional 1,592 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Republic, the Department of Health has said.

On Monday there were 318 patients in hospital with the disease, up by four on the previous day. The number in intensive care has risen to 60.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan warned of the increasing pressure on intensive care units (ICU).

He said: “Over the course of the last seven days, 32 people with Covid-19 were admitted to critical care facilities and today, there are a total of 60 people with Covid-19 receiving critical care.

“The median age of those in ICU is 55 – this means that 50 per cent of the patients currently in ICU with Covid-19 are aged less than 55 years.”

His comments come after the president of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland said the number of patients in intensive care has tripled in the last few weeks.

Dr Colman O’Loughlin warned that ICU capacity is limited and beds occupied by Covid patients will put pressure on cardiac, cancer and vascular care.

Dr O’Loughlin told RTÉ radio's News at One that the three main groups of Covid patients being admitted to ICU are: unvaccinated (mainly younger patients); vaccinated people with immuno-compromised conditions and vaccinated patients who nonetheless contracted the disease.

He said 60 per cent of those in ICU were not vaccinated.

Of the pregnant women in intensive care, some were very unwell, he said. In a number of cases emergency caesarean sections had to be performed to save the lives of mothers and babies. “That's very concerning,” he said.

During previous surges actions had been taken such as lockdowns or more restrictions, but now the plan appeared to be that restrictions would be eased because of the vaccination campaign. “This is unknown territory,” said Dr O’Loughlin. He said the concern was the “unpredictability of it”.


Speaking on the same programme, HSE chief operating officer Anne O’Connor expressed concern at the growth in hospital numbers, but said the system was coping “not without challenges”.

She said the priority for the HSE was to catch up on the cancellations from the past year.

Ms O’Connor said that the numbers in ICU today were 318, up from 259 on Saturday, which meant there were 157 available intensive care beds in the State.

The HSE was still working very closely with private hospitals who were providing 1,000 bed days per week, she said.

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