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There are now 2,023 people with Covid-19 in hospital

Over 400 people with Covid-19 are receiving high-grade ventilation and respiratory support.

File photo of an ICU bed.
File photo of an ICU bed.
Image: Shutterstock/Kiryl Lis

Updated Jan 18th 2021, 12:56 PM

THERE ARE NOW 2,023 people with Covid-19 in Irish hospitals, HSE chief Paul Reid has said.

Over 400 people with Covid-19 are receiving high-grade ventilation and respiratory support inside and outside of ICU, he added.

“Our national critical care surge plans are activated. Were working really hard to remain in control. Your help counts,” Reid said.

Yesterday, there were 1,923 people with Covid-19 in hospital and 195 people in ICU.

Private hospital ‘safety net’ deal

17 of Ireland’s 18 private hospitals have signed up to a “safety net” deal that allows the HSE to use private beds while coping with capacity pressure during Covid-19 surges.

The deal between the HSE and other private hospitals will allow the health service to use, depending on the incidence of Covid-19, up to 30% of the private hospitals’ capacity.

The only hospital not to sign up to the deal so far is the Beacon Hospital, which has raised concerns about the deal obliging the hospital to keep 30% of its beds free for public use – even when they’re not being used.

The hospital said that “the last HSE Agreement, which Beacon Hospital signed up to – in April to June last year, allowing the HSE take clinical control – led to the hospital being 70% empty for three months”.

The vaccines

The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said this morning that an incident in which family members of Coombe Hospital staff received leftover Covid-19 vaccines on 8 January “should not have happened”, and has requested a “full account” of the incident.

Speaking to the media this afternoon, Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris said he’s very concerns about what he heard happened at the Coombe Hospital.

“There should be no vaccines going into the bin … but there aren’t ‘spare vaccines’ in Ireland,” Harris said. 

The Minister said there’s either a protocol for “spare” vaccines which wasn’t followed, “or perhaps more worryingly, there isn’t a protocol at all”. 

A senior HSE source said it is difficult to have a “clear strategy” regarding leftover doses as this would require an exact number of people to have on call around a particular vaccination centre and there is a risk that not everyone would attend, leaving vaccines to potentially go to waste.

As of last Wednesday, 77,303 people have received their first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine. That is around 1.58% of the population. 

Three pilot mass vaccination centres took place at the weekend at Dublin Citywest, Galway and Portlaoise, which the chair of the Government’s high-level Covid-19 vaccine task force said officials will “learn a lot” from.

Last week, pharma company Pfizer said that it would delay vaccine deliveries for one week this week, as it ramps up production. 

The Health Minister is trying to secure an early delivery of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine to Ireland to begin vaccinations as soon as the jab receives European approval.

The European Medicines Agency is due to take the decision on 29 January.

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Epidemiological situation

There were 2,944 more cases of Covid-19 recorded in Ireland yesterday, with 13 deaths recorded. The total positive rate of tests is at 6.3%, and at 14.6% in the last seven days.

At the weekend, Dr Tony Holohan gave this statistic to illustrate how prevalent Covid-19 currently is:

“A significant percentage of the population – in excess of 1 in 10 in some counties – is currently either a case or a close contact.”

The 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 in Ireland is now at 1,530.2 per 100,000 people.

Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory Dr Cillian De Gascun said that it is “inevitable” that the variant from the UK will become the dominant variant in Ireland.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin, Cónal Thomas and Christina Finn

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