Covid-19: Holohan calls for ‘resilience’ as 63 deaths and 3,569 cases reported

Chief medical officer says ‘early signs of progress’ emerging but ‘long, long way to go’

National Public Health Emergency Team members  Prof Philip Nolan, Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Ronan Glynn. File photograph:  Stephen Collins/Collins Photos.

National Public Health Emergency Team members Prof Philip Nolan, Dr Tony Holohan and Dr Ronan Glynn. File photograph: Stephen Collins/Collins Photos.

 

A further 63 deaths linked to Covid-19, the second highest total on any day during the pandemic, and 3,569 confirmed cases of the disease have been reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).

A total of 159,144 cases have now been confirmed in the State since the pandemic began and 2,460 deaths have been recorded.

Five of the latest deaths reported occurred in November, one in December and 56 happened this month. The date of one person’s death remains under investigation, Nphet said in a statement.

The number of deaths reported on Wednesday is the second highest during the pandemic. The highest number, 77, was reported on April 20th.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said “some early signs of progress” were being seen with regard to daily cases numbers and positivity rates.

“We can take some hope in them, but we have a long, long way to go,” he said. “In the coming weeks ahead, we will need to draw upon our reserves of resilience from springtime as we can expect to see hospitalisations, admissions to ICU and mortality related to Covid-19 increase day on day.”

Of the latest cases, Nphet said 1,924 were among women and 1,616 were among men. Some 54 per cent of those who tested positive were under 45 and the median age was 42.

The highest number of infection was in Dublin (1,119) followed by Cork (416), Galway(200), Louth (182) and Waterford (169), with the remaining 1,483 cases spread across all other counties.

The 14-day incidence of the disease now stands at a record 1,449 cases per 100,000 people nationally. Monaghan has the highest county incidence, at 2,738, followed by Louth, Limerick and Waterford.

‘Stay apart’

“The best way that we can all support one another now is to stay apart,” Dr Holohan added. “Sadly, what we are seeing now is a result of the very high daily confirmed case numbers we experienced for successive weeks. To ensure our hospitals and loved ones remain protected, and stay alive to receive the vaccine, please continue to follow public health advice and stay home.”

However, he added that hospitals were there for those who need treatment.

“No one should ignore any worrying signs they may need medical attention, such as lumps, chest pain or other new symptoms. Phone your GP if you have any concerns, not just those related to Covid-19.”

Meanwhile, a senior HSE official has said a decline in the number of new infections from the record levels seen earlier this month will not immediately mean a reduction in the pressure on the State’s hospital system.

Chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said the number of people being treated in hospitals for the disease had risen to 1,770 on Wednesday, with 172 people in intensive care (ICU).

Dr Henry said nobody wanted to see the numbers go any higher but he expected that they would.

The HSE has prepared surge beds - additional intensive care provision - but these were just about allowing it to keep ahead of the rising demand for beds for patients with Covid-19, he said.

Dr Henry told RTÉ’s News at One that it was not just the peak that mattered because patients would continue to present to hospital for some time to come because of the disease.

When asked about the role of private hospitals in the surge, he said they were being used for time sensitive non-Covid care and there was an option to use them for patients with the disease if public hospital capacity becomes insufficient.

Close contacts

Earlier, his colleague Anne O’Connor, the HSE’s chief operations officer, admitted that some health workers who were close contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases were being called back to work before completing their 14 days self-isolation due to the pressure on the system.

She said this was being done as “a last resort” and staff who were close contacts but were displaying no symptoms were being tested for the disease and closely monitored by occupational health staff.

Responding to a question about absenteeism in the health service on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Ms O’Connor said that between acute hospitals, support services and community services there were more than 7,000 workers absent because of Covid-19, which she said was a challenge.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said it wanted the HSE to end its policy of allowing asymptomatic close contacts to return to work.

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