Covid-19 cases among healthcare workers and over-80s at lowest point since August

Fewer than 100 people hospitalised with virus last week, for first time since December

The State’s vaccine rollout is having an increasingly significant effect on cases of Covid-19 among healthcare workers, data suggests. File photograph: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images

The State’s vaccine rollout is having an increasingly significant effect on cases of Covid-19 among healthcare workers, data suggests. File photograph: Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP via Getty Images

 

The State’s vaccine rollout is having an increasingly significant effect on cases of Covid-19 among healthcare workers and the older population, new data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) suggests.

People aged over 65 accounted for just 5 per cent of daily Covid-19 cases last week, down from 18 per cent in the final week of January.

Meanwhile, people aged 80 and above made up less than 1 per cent (0.75 per cent) of new cases last week. In January people aged over 80 accounted for between 7.2 per cent and 8.7 per cent of weekly coronavirus cases. The 0.75 per cent figure has come despite a relaxation on visiting restrictions for nursing homes in the past few weeks.

Just 16 people aged 80 or above were diagnosed with the virus last week, the lowest such weekly figure since August. In a week in mid-January there were more than 1,350 cases of the virus confirmed in people over 80. That week the median age of new Covid-19 cases was 42, whereas it stood at 32 last week.

Healthcare workers

Cases among healthcare workers, another cohort that is largely vaccinated by this point, were also last week at their lowest since August, with 61 recorded cases. The healthcare workers diagnosed with the virus last week accounted for 2.9 per cent of all confirmed cases in the week. By comparison, healthcare workers made up 15.7 per cent and 22.2 per cent of confirmed cases in two weeks during the January Covid-19 spike.

Fewer than 100 people were admitted to hospital with the virus last week, for the first time since early December. There were 81 people hospitalised with Covid-19 last week, of which fewer than five were admitted to intensive care units.

The effect of the vaccines against Covid-19 is also likely evident in these hospitalisation figures, as older people now comprise far fewer of those admitted. During the wave of infections in January, between 31 per cent and 35 per cent of people hospitalised with the virus were aged 80 or older. Last week seven people in this oldest cohort were in hospital with Covid-19, accounting for 8.6 per cent of hospitalised Covid-19 cases.

‘Great relief’

The chief executive of the HSE, Paul Reid, said on Thursday that the benefits of the vaccination programme so far are proving to be “very strong”. He said the vaccination of HSE workers has enabled the “vast majority” of staff to get back to work, which is a “great relief” for the health service.

The rollout is already generating positive effects on disease indicators, such as a reduction in illness, hospitalisations and mortality due to Covid-19, he said.

“All of this isn’t just providing relief for the HSE; it is providing relief and hope for the public as they are seeing the benefits of the vaccination programme,” he added.

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