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Small window to avoid ‘catastrophe’ for health system, doctors warn

If the current trajectory of the disease continues, there will be 1,800-2,200 cases a day, with 400 Covid-19 patients hospitalised.

Image: PA

ANOTHER SHUTDOWN OF non-Covid healthcare services this year would be a “catastrophe”, doctors have warned as Covid-19 cases continue to rise. 

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) says there is an extremely short window to avoid the health system becoming overwhelmed, urging people to comply with public health guidelines. 

“Departments of public health all around the country are under extreme pressure with the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. Covid-19 is no longer under control,” Chair of the Public Health Committee of the IMO, Dr Ina Kelly, said. 

“If this continues we will not be able to protect our most vulnerable in society so we really need the support of the public to be the first line of defence and keep fighting this virus. If cases continue to rise it will be a catastrophe for our health system and will cause untold suffering for patients who require diagnostic and scheduled care.”

Their warning comes as the government is giving “active consideration” to NPHET’s advice to move to the country to Level 5 for a period of six weeks.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan will all meet tomorrow to discuss the latest advice – less than two weeks after NPHET first recommended the move to Level 5.

Since then, the situation has escalated further with data shared at the Department of Health briefing last night indicating that if the current trajectory of the disease continues, there will be 1,800-2,200 cases a day, with 400 Covid-19 patients hospitalised.  

General practice doctors say they are seeing increasing calls in relation to Covid-19 but that the “worrying part” is the people who know they are close contacts or are awaiting tests results and not self-isolating.

“We are seeing a lot of close contacts of confirmed cases not restricting their movements for 14 days after receiving a negative test result. This is greatly contributing to the spread of the virus. Even if someone who is a close contact of a confirmed case tested negative every day for 14 days, but they must still self-isolate for those 14 days,” Chair of the GP Committee of the IMO, Dr Denis McCauly, said. 

The national breakdown of Covid-19 incidence by local area shows that parts of Cavan and Donegal – which is now under Level 4 restrictions along with Monaghan – have the highest 14-day incidence rate per 100,000.

Ballyjamesduff’s 14-day incidence rate is 651.1 cases per 100,000. Lifford-Stranorlar, Donegal is second highest with 610.3 cases per 100,000 followed by Cork City South-Central which has 566.4 cases per 100,000. 

As of 8am today, 244 Covid-19 patients are hospitalised, of which 29 are in ICU. There have been 25 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours. 

A further 1,000 new cases were confirmed in Ireland this evening, bringing the total number of confirmed cases here to 47,427. A further three patients diagnosed with Covid-19 have also died.

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The INMO, which represents over 5,000 doctors across all specialities, asks that people follow the basic messages:

  • Reduce social contacts to a minimum
  • Don’t take part in activities where you will be mixing with others
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Wear a mask.

About the author:

Adam Daly

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