Covid-19: State third lowest for hospitalisations out of 18 countries reviewed

Hiqa study reveals sharp reduction in severe illness from the virus in Republic

The Republic has been on its third lockdown since just after Christmas.

The Republic has been on its third lockdown since just after Christmas.


Ireland had the third lowest rate of hospitalisations and intensive care unit (ICU) admissions from Covid-19 in a review of 18 countries, an international study on lockdown strategies shows.

The State also experienced one of the steepest reductions in deaths related to the virus.

The international review, published by State health watchdog the Health Information and Quality Authority, shows key indicators of severe illness from the virus were down by mid-March.

In the seven days to March 14th, the rate of hospitalisations and ICU admissions fell over the previous seven days by 23.6 per cent and 23.1 per cent respectively.

Máirín Ryan, Hiqa’s deputy chief executive and director of health technology assessment, said that hospitalisations per million population were lower only in Denmark and the Netherlands, while ICU admissions were lower only in Denmark and the UK.

“Our strategy has been successful to date in limiting the spread of Covid-19 in Ireland. But a further reduction in the burden of Covid-19 on our healthcare system will be necessary if the system is to deal with the waiting lists for non-Covid care,” said Dr Ryan.

As of March 14th, the death rate over a 14-day period had decreased 25 per cent week-on-week, to 43.5 per million population from 57.9 seven day days earlier.

A small number of countries including Belgium, the Czech Republic and Italy had seen an increase in the 14-day death rate over the previous seven days.

Hospitalisations also increased in Italy, the Czech Republic, Austria, Sweden and Belgium.

The report shows that Ireland was only one of five countries to see a reduction in 14-day case numbers per 100,000 population over the week to March 14th.

Infection rates in Ireland have, however, risen since the reporting period covered in the review. The seven-day average of new daily cases had increased by 9 per cent to 552 as of Sunday.

The review found that the majority of regions were at the highest risk level, except Israel where the vaccination programme is far more advanced than in other countries, though the report says that the situation is “extremely fluid in Europe” and restrictions are “under constant review”.

“The types of measures that have been applied are generally consistent across the countries we studied, but vary in detail, including the use of night time curfews, the number of people allowed to meet and the opening hours of hospitality businesses,” said Dr Ryan.

Single doses

The report assesses vaccination levels as of March 12th and found that Israel had the largest share of its population fully vaccinated with 47.5 per cent of its population inoculated followed by Switzerland with 4.3 per cent and Denmark at 4.2 per cent.

Ireland had 3.3 per cent of its population fully vaccinated on that date.

In the UK, only 2.3 per cent of the population had been fully vaccinated, reflecting how the country has been broadly administering single doses to priority groups.

The review focused on countries that were experiencing a resurgence in Covid-19 cases in October and identified by the National Public Health Emergency Team as being in a similar phase of pandemic response to Ireland.

The paper was presented to the State’s public health team last week.

The State has been on its third lockdown since just after Christmas when a third wave of Covid-19 infections led to record numbers of cases, hospitalisations and deaths.

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