Covid-19: 4,607 new cases reported with 579 patients in hospital

Number of people in hospital and requiring intensive care is ‘concerning’, says Holohan

The heavily mutated Omicron coronavirus variant is likely to spread internationally and poses a high risk of infection surges that could have "severe consequences" in some places, the World Health Organisation has said. Video: Reuters

 

A further 4,607 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Monday evening as chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the virus “continues to have a significant impact on our health service”.

As of 8am on Monday morning, there were 579 patients hospitalised with the virus, with 115 of those in ICUs.

“We are still seeing a concerning number of people who are in hospital and require critical care,” said Dr Holohan

“We know that the news of the Omicron variant is causing some concern. However, we also know how to break the chains of transmission of Covid-19 – these measures have worked against previous variants of Covid-19, they can successfully suppress transmission of the Delta variant and we are optimistic that they will work against the Omicron variant.”

Dr Holohan asked the public to be mindful of who they will be in contact with after socialising and said vaccine booster doses are now available to everyone aged 16 and older.

Omicron in Ireland

Earlier, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said it was “likely” that the Omicron variant was already in Ireland. He later told Virgin Media News that the number of cases sent for sequencing was a little more than 10.

Defending Ireland’s level of genome tracking, Mr Donnelly said it was the third highest in Europe, behind the UK and Denmark, and that at present 10 percent of samples were being sequenced.

Speaking ahead of a Cabinet meeting on Tuesday to decide whether further restrictions would be introduced, Mr Donnelly said antigen tests no longer needed to be subsidised, saying the market had reduced the prices itself and calling this a “good result”.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
711 74

Mr Donnelly said he had been minded to act because prices of at around €8 per test were “simply not affordable” for many people but added that “since we have been looking at subsidisation, the prices have fallen.”

He cited examples of new low prices and suggested that the Government “have managed to achieve the price reduction without having to get into spending taxpayers’ money on a subsidisation.”

He said that the market had “done it itself. It has happened without having to spend taxpayers’ money on it. So it’s been a good result,” Mr Donnelly told RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Claire Byrne show.

“McCauley’s pharmacy for example are selling them at €3, some of the supermarkets are selling them at €3.99. I heard of one retailer yesterday who’s selling them at €1.50.”

Walk-in boosters

Mr Donnelly said that despite National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) approval for the booster campaign to be extended to everyone over the age of 16, walk-in clinics at present are only for those over 60 and healthcare workers.

“There are only so many vaccines that can be given in any week, so we have to prioritise,” he said.

Prioritisation was necessary to ensure that the vaccine got to those most at risk, the system was working, he said, as a reduction was being seen in cases in the age groups targeted by the booster campaign to date.

When asked about people over 70 where their GP had referred them to a vaccination centre, the Minister said that GPs should not refer patients to a vaccination centre, they should refer to another GP.

The new variant Omicron would now raise question marks about what measures should be taken, no government could predict what measures would need to be in place until there was further information on the new variant.

Meanwhile, Mr Donnelly said there was no place in a democracy for protestors to go to a person’s house, as happened to him at the weekend.

“I’ve nothing to say to those people,” he said, when asked by presenter Claire Byrne.

However, he said “more broadly” this kind of behaviour had no place in a civilised society.

Protest was essential in an open democracy, he added. “But going to people’s houses, no matter who they are, is an overt attempt at intimidation.”

Mr Donnelly said he was proud, and was in awe, at the response of the Irish people “to this awful pandemic”. There was a decency in Irish society “that we need to hold on to.”

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