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10% of people who tested positive for Covid yesterday were vaccinated

Health officials have warned that a fourth wave will break through the protection offered by vaccines.

Updated Jul 20th 2021, 2:45 PM

THE HSE HAS said 10% of people who tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday had been vaccinated.

Speaking to RTÉ’s News at One today, HSE Chief Operations Officer Dr Anne O’Connor said one in five people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 have been vaccinated.

She said the rates of Covid admissions among vaccinated people are higher in other jurisdictions. Dr O’Connor said for those who are vaccinated and who are admitted to hospital with Covid, their outcomes are better and they are not becoming as sick. 

There were 89 Covid patients in hospital this morning, with 20 people in ICU, and 30% of cases are in two hospitals; Mayo University Hospital and Letterkenny Hospital.

Dr O’Connor said, aside from Covid care, hospitals are “exceptionally busy” with people turning up to Emergency Departments and people coming in for “often long-awaited procedures” and other scheduled care.

“It is a concern for us when we look at the broader picture in terms of that increasing number of people who are testing positive, we know now that the positivity rate in the community is about 9% and we have seen in every surge so far that higher community transmission rate will drive more hospital admissions, notwithstanding the vaccination programme which has been hugely successful,” she said.

Dr O’Connor said there is a greater spread in terms of age groups in the people coming into hospital who are Covid-positive. However she said some of these people are presenting to hospital for different reasons and then testing positive. 

Last night Professor Philip Nolan, chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group warned that a wave of Covid-19 infection in younger people in Ireland will break through the protection offered by vaccines and lead to serious infections among older and vulnerable groups.

In a series of tweets, Nolan said the current rise in cases is “comparable to or steeper than” the early part of previous waves.

He said this will not translate into severe disease and mortality in the same way as before, but numbers in hospital are rising, with 101 this Covid patients in hospital yesterday morning.

Nolan noted that case numbers on Sundays and early in the week tend to be lower and figures over the next few days will be an important indicator.

Cases now are mainly concentrated in older teens and younger adults, he said, but health officials are beginning to see an increase in incidence across other age groups including those aged 65 and older. 

“Incidence in those aged 16-29 years is rising rapidly, is higher than we have seen since the end of January 2021, and higher than the October 2020 peak,” he said. 

“Incidence varies by county, but most counties have a 7-day incidence significantly greater than 50% of their 14-day incidence, indicating rapid growth in those counties.”

Professor Nolan said a wave of infection in young people will cause severe illness and long-term complications in a sizeable minority and will “break through the protection of vaccination to cause dangerous infections in older and vulnerable people”.

“We know what we need to do: support those not yet fully vaccinated to socialise safely outdoors and distanced, and we all need to self-isolate and seek a test if symptomatic, avoid crowds and crowded spaces, and take the basic public health and hygiene precautions,” he said.

Indoor dining

Government officials will meet later today with representatives from the restaurant and pub sectors to discuss guidelines for the safe reopening of indoor dining.

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Areas such as social distancing, ventilation and time limits are up for discussion. 

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, Restaurants Association of Ireland Chief Executive Adrian Cummins said the RAI has a “bone of contention” over when customers will have to present their proof of vaccination.

Cummins said it should be required at the point of sale in certain premises, such as food courts, as businesses would otherwise have to employ additional staff. 

He said he does not expect that numbers who are allowed to sit together at tables will change.

“We want to make sure everyone is on board, it’s vital that when we reopen our businesses, hopefully from next week, that that is the end, there’s no going back and we have to start living with Covid in the future as an industry and as an economy and society,” he said.

Tomorrow Cabinet will give the final sign off on the reopening of indoor dining in pubs and restaurants.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he is “hopeful” that the plan to allow reopening next Monday will go ahead but government has to be satisfied that it is consistent with what “is necessary from a public health point of view”.

The minister said the vaccination programme is making good progress, with more than 350,000 doses administered each week over the last five weeks.

“We in the battle between infections and injections of vaccinations, we are making such progress,” he said.

He said the country is in a battle with a disease that is “pitiless and always evolving” but the government has to look at “how to have a society that is more safely and sustainably open”.

“Hospitality has been open in many other countries now for quite a while and in fact other countries are now looking at how they can implement forms of a system that’s quite similar to what I hope we’re going to be able to implement,” he said. 

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