Number of Covid-19 patients in hospital at eight-month low

Holohan says despite the fall hospital system remains under considerable pressure

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital and in intensive care has dropped to their lowest levels in over eight months.

There were 281 Covid-19 patients in hospital on Saturday and 293 on Sunday, lower than at any point since last September.

This included 29 patients in ICU, lowest than at any point since last August.

The Covid-19 burden on hospitals remains significant but has substantially reduced, according to chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan in his latest weekly bulletin.


The hospital system remains under considerable pressure, with Covid-19 continuing to impact on acute capacity, Dr Holohan says in the report for the last week in April.

Just over half of those in hospital were there due to Covid-19, with the remaining 47 per cent categorised as asymptomatic.

Almost three-quarters of hospital cases were aged 65 and older. Of those in hospital with the virus, 42 per had received a booster vaccination, 22 per cent had completed primary vaccination and 37 per cent were unvaccinated.

Among patients in ICU, 55 per cent were there due to Covid-19. Some 18 per cent of Covid-19 cases in ICU were unvaccinated and 76 per cent were fully vaccinated, of whom 88 per cent were recorded as having received a booster.

Deaths involving Covid-19 remain “relatively stable”, Dr Holohan reported.

Meanwhile, there were over 2,300 excess deaths in Ireland during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a latest estimate of its toll on the nation.

A total of 2,383 excess deaths occurred in two distinct surges between March 2020 and April 2022, higher than any spikes linked to recent flu seasons, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre has estimated.

The HPSC's estimate is lower than the 2,920 excess deaths cited in a World Health Organisation report published this week, but higher than the 2,019 total reached by the Health Information and Quality Authority and the 1,170 estimate in a study published by The Lancet in March.

There was significant excess all-cause deaths for seven weeks in March-May 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic and again for eight weeks in January-February 2021 during the third wave, the HPSC says.

Most of it occurred among over-75s. While there was no excess mortality among under-65s during the first surge, there was some during the second surge.

Since February 2021 little or no excess mortality has been observed.

During summer in 2021 and 2022, lower mortality levels were observed. This is attributed to mortality displacement, as vulnerable or frail people who would have died soon from other causes, died early due to Covid-19.

Excess deaths is the difference between the number of recorded deaths from all causes and the number expected based on past trends. It is regarded as the best measure of the impact of a pandemic as it is independent of testing rules and other alterable responses.

Excess mortality during the pandemic includes its direct and indirect impacts; both Covid-19 deaths and deaths from other causes, which may arise when people delay seeking medical treatment and receive a delayed diagnosis.

Since 2009, the HPSC has monitored excess mortality in Ireland as part of a European monitoring network known as Euromomo.

However, Irish data is hampered by delays in registering deaths.

Latest Euromomo data shows estimates of all-cause mortality decreasing across Europe, but still elevated among 44-64 year-olds and those aged over 65.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.