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HSE warns of expected increase in flu and Covid cases amid jump in hospitalisations

Hospitals and residential care facilities are expected to come under ‘significant pressure’ in the coming weeks.

THE HEALTH SERVICE has warned that it expects to see an increase in flu and Covid-19 transmissions in the coming weeks, as there has been a jump in the number of people attending emergency departments with the illnesses. 

So far this week, 538 people with the flu attended emergency departments across the country, as well as 282 people with Covid. 

That compares to 312 people with the flu and 144 people with Covid the week before. 

A HSE spokesperson said: “While our system is responding well, this increasing pressure requires us all to play our part in using the right options for care.”

There are currently 20 outbreaks of Covid in hospitals and 24 in nursing homes, which is also an increase on last week. 

“Increasing community infection rates will lead to increased risk of outbreaks,” the spokesperson said. 

They added that Ireland’s acute hospitals are currently “as prepared as can be” to deal with the expected rise in attendances and admissions over the coming period. 

Today there are 119 people on trolleys compared to 443 people on this date last year. 

A further 124 patients are occupying surge beds compared to 375 on the same date last year. 

There are also less people experiencing a delayed transfer of care in acute hospitals. 

The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said that increased rates of Covid and flu will put “significant pressure” on hospitals and residential care facilities in the short term. 

He said that we are currently seeing a “delayed peak” in the flu season. 

“This increase in viruses circulating obliges anyone with respiratory symptoms to avoid visiting hospitals and nursing homes if we have respiratory symptoms.

“Every healthcare setting is assessing the risks locally and monitoring their own local risks, and this may lead them to take additional measures in certain settings, such as the wearing of masks if deemed necessary,” Dr Henry said, adding that these measures will help to protect vulnerable people. 

He also urged people to stay home if they have flu or Covid symptoms, and to get vaccinated if possible before we reach the peak of flu season in the near future. 

See for more information on COVID and flu vaccination and to find where to get your vaccines.

Dr Éamonn O’Moore, the Director of National Health Protection with the HSE, said that the new JN. 1 variant of Covid is fast becoming the dominant strain. 

“This variant may be more transmissible than previous variants, resulting in more infections. We are still collating data in Ireland and internationally on whether it will result in more illness requiring hospital care but at this time we are not seeing that signal,” he explained. 

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