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Surge concerns

Increase of 12 Covid-19 patients in ICU departments in the last 24 hours

There are 86 Covid-19 patients in the country’s ICU departments.

A SENIOR INTENSIVE CARE doctor has said hospitals can cope with seriously ill patients at present but said there are concerns about a possible surge in Covid-19 cases. 

As of today there are 86 Covid-19 patients in the country’s intensive care units (ICU) – that is an increase an increase of 12 since yesterday.

At present, since this morning, there are 464 Covid-19 patients in hospitals nationwide – a drop of nine in the last 24 hours.

Dr Colman O’Loughlin, the President of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland, speaking on Morning Ireland, said that he believes the capacity of ICUs can handle the increase. 

“At the moment, the numbers are increasing, but we’re able to cope with the numbers coming through from the emergency departments and into the wards and into the ICU and at the same time cope with non-Covid activity in the hospital,” he said. 

The doctor expressed a cautious tone as he discussed the projections for a potential surge in the coming weeks and months.

“I suppose our concerns arise around the projections and projections that we’re talking about like yesterday, where there are up to 1,000 patients in hospital, and 150 in ICU over the next couple of weeks and months.

“That is quite concerning because that is going to be very difficult to cope with in the setting of this increased activity across all hospital levels.

“Not all of them will survive, and those who do survive are very unwell for a significant period afterwards,” he said. 

Dr O’Loughlin said that it is a “huge challenge” for staff in ICU departments. 

“We’d hoped we wouldn’t have to face into it again, but the numbers are there and happening, transmission [in] the community is much higher than we’d like.

“There is that relationship between high transmission and the community relating into the hospital patients and into ICU – it has always been there. That’s going to happen, there’s no getting away from that,” he said. 

 ”Each hospital will have a different point at which it will have to kind of consider how it runs as a hospital in terms of coping with increased Covid activity,” Dr O’Loughlin said.

The doctor, who is also a respiratory consultant, said that there are concerns in the medical community regarding the potential for a surge. 

He said that the hospitals will have to activate a plan which will see elective procedures such as surgery suffer which will result in “phenomenal waiting lists”.

The reason for this is that staff in other parts of the individual hospitals will be transferred from normal duties to care for the Covid-19 patients. This will result in parts of the facilities being closed down to facilitate the surge activity.

Dr O’Loughlin said that despite the high vaccination rates in the community there is still a large cohort of people who remain unvaccinated. 

He explained that the transmission rate is still high despite the vaccination rate and said that this is causing people who are not vaccinated to suffer serious effects of the virus.  

“Nearly all our patients in ICU are unvaccinated at the moment so that concept of offering huge amount of protection has happened from the vaccine, what doesn’t seem to have happened to that same level is the reduction in transmission,” he added. 

On the same radio show Dr Ian Counihan, a respiratory consultant at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Drogheda, said 10% of its medical beds are taken up with Covid-19 patients.

Counihan said August was a very busy month for the hospital as it stood but that a medical ward has become completely Covid-19 focused.

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