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Covid-19: 23,281 new confirmed cases, 656 in hospital and 85 in ICU

The latest figures were reported by the Department of Health today.
Jan 1st 2022, 4:30 PM 192,321 335

HEALTH OFFICIALS HAVE confirmed a further 23,281 cases of Covid-19 in this country.

As of 8am, 656 people were in hospital with the virus, 85 of whom were in intensive care.

Yesterday, 20,110 new cases of the virus were reported, with 682 people in hospital with Covid-19 and 86 in ICU.

The latest figures come in the wake of warnings from NPHET that the PCR testing system has been overwhelmed by the volume of the disease in the country this week, and that the true volume of cases is up to 40% higher.

Changes to guidelines around who should seek a PCR test were announced on Thursday in a bid to ease the pressure on the system, including advice for symptomatic people in younger age groups to instead take regular antigen tests and only seek a PCR test if they receive a positive antigen result first.

The daily case number figures released each evening are likely to give an underestimate of the level of Covid-19 in Ireland compared to earlier periods in the pandemic when the daily figures were much lower.

The hospitalisation figures released each evening include details of people who were either admitted to hospital with Covid-19 or received a ‘detected’ result while in hospital.

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said this week that over 90% of people in hospital and intensive care with Covid-19 are there for the management of the disease. Less than 5% of those in hospital or intensive care have ‘incidental’ (asymptomatic, non-infectious) disease.

With the PCR system under strain, the Department of Social Protection confirmed this afternoon that proof of a HSE antigen test can now be used to qualify for Enhanced Illness Benefit.

In a statement, the department said that in light of the HSE changes in relation to Covid testing, it has now expanded the range of documentation customers can use to apply for the benefit.

To avail of Enhanced Illness Benefit, the Department of Social Protection will now accept:

  • Confirmation from the HSE that you have ordered an antigen test (a system will be in place from Monday)
  • A text message from the HSE that you are a close contact
  • Certification from your GP that you have symptoms of Covid-19 and/or are a probable source of infection.

As has been the case to date, a positive PCR test result will also qualify for Enhanced Illness Benefit.

Announcing the changes, Minister for Social Protection Heather Humphreys said: “It’s so important that anyone who receives a positive test or is displaying symptoms self-isolates and follows the public health advice.

“I know that these new flexibilities will give people that peace of mind that my Department is here to support them if they become ill or are required to take time off work due to Covid-19.”

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It comes after the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) reiterated its calls for hospitals to curtail all non-emergency activity and for greater measures to be taken to reduce workplace transmission of Covid in hospitals. 

In a statement, INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Our fragile health services are being held together at the moment by an exhausted nursing workforce who are experiencing high levels of burnout.”

“Annual leave is being cancelled by many in order to fill rosters and many nurses are reporting that they are staying beyond their scheduled work hours to care for patients,” she said.

“Our public hospital system is too small to cope with servicing emergency care, Covid care and elective treatments. It is time for the State to step up and ensure that all capacity that can be gained from the private sector is used.

The HSE and political system has a responsibility to an exhausted medical workforce to ensure their workplaces are as safe as they can be. There must be no tolerance for hospital overcrowding while a highly transmissible airborne virus is making its way around our hospitals. Improvements to air quality in our hospitals must be a priority.

“As we head into what is traditionally a chaotic time in our hospitals, the normal January patterns of overcrowding in our hospitals should not be tolerated. Our hospitals cannot operate on goodwill of staff alone, we need and urgent capacity plan from the HSE.”'s coronavirus newsletter cuts through the misinformation and noise with the clear facts you need to make informed choices. Sign up here

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