Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan. Sam Boal

CMO warns of 'increased pressure on hospital system' if Covid-19 cases continue to rise

As of this morning, there were 508 patients in hospital with the virus.

THE ACUTE HOSPITAL system “remains under considerable pressure” due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the Chief Medical Officer has said.

In his weekly update to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, Dr Tony Holohan warned: “If the recent rising trend in hospitalised cases continues, we are likely to see increased pressure on the hospital system over the coming weeks.”

“This will further reduce hospital capacity to admit patients for scheduled and unscheduled care,” he said. 

The update was sent on 10 June, when the number of patients in hospital with Covid-19 stood at 355. As of this morning, there were 508 in hospital with the virus, 28 of whom were receiving intensive care.

Dr Holohan wrote that as of 7 June, 51% of hospitalised cases were categorised as hospitalised for Covid-19, with the remaining 49% categorised as “asymptomatic Covid-19 cases and potentially infectious”.

He said that the numbers of detected and reported infections and hospitalised cases have increased, with a “significant proportion” of detected infections identified in older age groups. 

“A number of epidemiological indicators have deteriorated in recent days suggesting that
levels of SARS-CoV-2 transmission have increased,” he said.

He also said that the increasing prevalence of the Omicron variant of the virus, named BA.4 and BA.5, is “likely contributing significantly to the current epidemiological profile”.

Last week, the Health Minister said that health officials were “working through” what kind of plan should be in place in the event of a spike in cases, but said new restrictions were unlikely.

“I have no advice nor have there been any questions raised in the Department of Health at this point around additional restrictions,” he said.

Dr Holohan said that the current public advice continues to be that anyone diagnosed with Covid-19 “should self-isolate for seven days from date of onset of symptoms, or if asymptomatic, date of first positive test”.

Mask wearing is advised on public transport and in healthcare settings, with those who are vulnerable to Covid-19 being further advised to be aware of the risk associated with
activities they may choose to engage in. 

“Vulnerable individuals are advised to consider wearing masks in crowded indoor settings, such as may relate, for example, to social gatherings or other activities and events,” he wrote. 

He also urged people who have not yet received a booster vaccine to avail of one if they were eligible.

It was announced this week that Professor Breda Smyth has been appointed to serve as interim chief medical officer, as Dr Holohan prepares to step down from the role on 1 July after 14 years.

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