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Hospital chief says Ireland on 'upward curve' of fourth wave of Covid-19 infections

Patients aren’t becoming as sick as during the third wave, Tony Canavan said.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock

IRELAND IS AT the start of a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, according to the CEO of Mayo University Hospital, which saw an outbreak of coronavirus cases in recent days. 

Tony Canavan said the fresh wave of infections will put hospitals under “significant pressure” despite the impact of patient mortality being unknown at present.

Canavan is the chief executive of the Saolta hospital group, which includes Mayo University Hospital and Letterkenny University Hospital, which also saw a surge in cases this week.

The two hospitals have the highest number of confirmed cases in the country, with 14 in Letterkenny and 13 in Mayo. The latest figures from the HSE show that five fresh Covid cases were confirmed in the Donegal facility yesterday.

Canavan said the hospital group was notified about the outbreak in Mayo University Hospital towards the end of last week after positive Covid-19 cases were picked up by the hospital’s screening process.

However, a number of cases were not identified by the screening process and this led to transmission within the hospital.

Canavan told RTÉ Radio 1 today that that the experience across hospitals in the Saolta group is that patients exhibiting mild symptoms of Covid-19 are being admitted for other reasons, and cases are then being identified by the screening process.

This is notably different from the third wave, when patients were presenting with serious illnesses caused by Covid-19.

“That doesn’t mean that the impact on the hospital services is any less because all patients once they’re deemed Covid-19 positive have to be managed in a particular way and that puts hospital services under significant pressure,” Canavan said.

“We’re at the start of the fourth wave, on the upward curve of the fourth wave. What we don’t know about the fourth wave yet is the extent to which it will lead to patient morbidity, in other words patients becoming very seriously ill and requiring treatment,” he added.

And also we don’t know the effects it will have in terms of patient mortality.

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Canavan said that the ages of those who have tested positive range from people in their 20s to their 90s. He added some are fully vaccinated, some are partially vaccinated and some are unvaccinated.

HSE Chief Operations Officer Dr Anne O’Connor said yesterday that one in five people admitted to hospital with Covid-19 have been vaccinated.

Dr O’Connor added that people who are vaccinated and who are admitted to hospital with Covid-19 have better outcomes and they are not becoming as sick. 

As of 8pm last night, there were 96 Covid-19 patients in hospitals across Ireland. A total of 22 people were in intensive care units.

About the author:

Céimin Burke

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