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Thursday 8 June 2023 Dublin: 12°C
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# Coronavirus
Tánaiste says he does not think new restrictions will be needed to tackle summer Covid wave
There are some 606 patients in hospital with Covid.

LAST UPDATE | Jun 20th 2022, 4:47 PM

TÁNAISTE LEO VARADKAR has said he does not believe the government will have to introduce new restrictions over the summer to tackle the summer wave of Covid-19. 

Health officials have expressed concern about rising hospitalisation figures as well as case numbers in residential care settings. At least two hospitals have issued appeals to the public to avoid their Emergency Departments where possible. 

Speaking to reporters today the Tánaiste said the government will be guided by public health advice.

“The current advice from the CMO [Chief Medical Officer} is that we don't need to extend the mask mandate, that we continue to encourage it in healthcare settings, and obviously on public transport as well, but not that it would be legally mandatory," Varadkar said.

"We are seeing a summer wave of infections, as you know, over 600 people in hospital today who are positive for Covid. About half of them would be in hospital anyway, but nonetheless it is an increase.

"I think we will get over this summer wave without the need to impose any new restrictions but obviously we'll be guided by public health advice in that regard."

This morning, HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said there is a “troubling” upwards trend of Covid-19 in hospitals.

The rise in hospital cases is largely a result of new subvariants of Omicron, he told Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio One.

There are some 606 patients in hospital with Covid, half of whom are sick with the disease.

Dr Henry said infections in nursing homes and residential care settings are on the rise, but numbers were “nothing like” March of this year, when infections peaked due to the spread of the Omicron variant.

He said there would be increased pressure on hospitals in the coming weeks as they dealt with day-to-day procedures as well as Covid patients.

“We’re seeing a rise in what we call hospital-acquired infection, that’s people who seem to acquire Covid within a healthcare setting … that’s gone up from 61 a couple of weeks ago to about 187.

Numbers in ICU remain steady, however.

Hospitals, Henry added, are “vulnerable places”, given that many patients are frail or immunosuppressed.


“The harsh reality is if you look at hospitalised cases … Over half have not received their booster and over a third not vaccinated have not even [been] vaccinated in the first place.

“We don’t want Covid to get through to those people if they haven’t got Covid yet because they’re particularly vulnerable – not just to infection, but to serious illness.

“It’s not too late to get vaccinated,” Henry said.

9271 HSE Briefing Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland / Photocall Ireland

Last week, there were 8,751 PCR-confirmed cases and 10,799 positive antigen tests registered. Some 26 deaths due to with Covid-19 were notified last week.

Henry encouraged people to consider seeking urgent care in a “broader range of settings”, such as their GP or a Local Injury Unit, rather than attending a busy Emergency Department.

However, when Byrne pointed out that GPs were “floored” at the moment, he said that he “would never say to someone who [has] an urgent or emergency problem to stay away”.

Dublin’s Mater Hospital has appealed to the public, where possible, to avoid its Emergency Department. 

“Hospital services are under extreme pressure due to high numbers of presentations at the ED,” it said.

“Patients who are presenting at our ED with non-urgent conditions are unfortunately experiencing lengthy waiting times to be seen.”

Mercy University Hospital in Cork issued a similar appeal, stating that there has been a “marked increase in the attendances of acutely ill patients and a surge in Covid-19 presentations”.

“This is in addition to caring for frail older persons with complex needs,” the hosital said. 

It said its Emergency Department remains open 24/7 but “it is regrettable that patients are and will continue to experience delays”.

- With reporting by Michelle Hennessy.

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