Number of Covid-19 outbreaks in hospital more than doubled last week

Six-week high in number of patients with illness recorded

The number of Covid-19 outbreaks in hospital more than doubled last week as the virus continues to circulate in the community.

The number of patients with Covid-19 also continues to increase, reaching a six-week high on Wednesday.

In the UK, a similar rise in hospitalisations is causing concern. Some scientists have attributed the trend to more infections and waning booster protection over time, particularly among older people.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) said on Wednesday it had been notified of 1,715 PCR-confirmed cases of Covid-19. More than 7,300 positive antigen tests were registered on Tuesday, the highest number since the HSE started compiling figures earlier this year. The number of positive PCR tests - required for older age-groups and other at-risk groups - continues to decline slowly.


As of 8am on Wednesday, 829 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised, of whom 51 were in ICU.

There were 129 Covid-19 outbreaks last week, 29 more than the previous week, according to the latest update from the HPSC.

This included 28 outbreaks in hospitals, up from 13 the previous week to the highest level since early January. The largest involved 22 linked cases.

There were 38 outbreaks in nursing homes, up nine, with the largest single outbreak involving 36 cases. More than half of the 601 outbreaks in nursing homes in this wave of the pandemic remain open.

The east and the north-west were the worst affected areas for outbreaks in both hospitals and nursing homes last week.

No outbreaks were reported in schools or childcare facilities. This does not mean no outbreaks occurred; only that none were considered to require prioritisation by public health staff.


Last week, there were also 20 outbreaks in centres for disabilities and eight affecting the Traveller community.

According to a separate HPSC update, 13 Covid-19 deaths were notified last week, with an average age of 83 years. They included another healthcare worker death, the 23rd so far in this pandemic.

The total number of Covid-19 deaths has reached 6,569, with 2,325 of these occurring in nursing homes. The number of patients with Covid-19 in ICU fell to 47 on Wednesday, after rising for three days.

The number hospitalised jumped by 26, to 829. This figure has been rising consistently since the third week of February, when it hit a one-month low of 583 patients. At 33 per cent, the positivity rate is also on the rise.

Meanwhile, an Oireachtas committee has been told that hospital trolley numbers are being massaged by hiding patients waiting for admission out of the emergency department.

The real number of patients waiting for admission could be twice as high as the HSE’s official count, according to a senior emergency department consultant.

On some days, there can be over 1,000 patients waiting for admission - or 10 per cent of all beds in the country, according to Dr Mick Molloy of the Irish Medical Organisation.

The HSE has issued directives to hospitals not to count certain patients who have been through ED and are waiting for a bed, he told the committee, including those placed in daycare or day surgery beds, or in the acute medical assessment unit.

This was displacing other patients and activities and yet the people involved were not reflected in the HSE’s daily TrolleyGar count of patients waiting for admission, he said.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times