Twenty pregnant or postpartum women have needed intensive care (ICU) treatment for Covid-19 since the end of June, the chair of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has said.
Dr Cliona Murphy, an obstetrician at the Coombe Hospital in Dublin, said the figures were "quite striking".
"Before that, in the months from the end of last November to June, there were 22 [women requiring ICU], but just from June to October, to have 20 is quite significant," Dr Murphy told RTÉ Radio's News at One on Monday.
Dr Murphy said over the last two days three women had to be transferred from maternity hospitals in Dublin city to general hospitals for ICU, which “has given us a bit of a shock”.
Dr Murphy also said there is generally one person a year who might require extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a specialised life support unit, but there has been “a handful of people who’ve needed ECMO this year and that is extraordinary for obstetrics”.
She said women who have just given birth and have to be moved to ICU for Covid-19 treatment could be there for up to five weeks.
Dr Murphy said pop-up vaccination clinics for pregnant women and their partners who have not been vaccinated will be operating across maternity hospitals this week.
“If somebody gets Covid and they are pregnant, they have a one in 20 risk of hospitalisation, and if they end up coming into hospital because of symptoms, they’ve a 10 per cent risk of ICU admission – which is quite something – and up to 43 per cent risk of caesarean section and about a 20 per cent risk of having a premature baby because of it,” Dr Murphy added.
“The odds are not in favour of somebody pregnant getting Covid.”
The Department of Health reported 1,845 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday. The number of patients being treated in hospital was 497 as of 8am this morning, with 99 of those in ICU.
The HSE’s national director for the vaccination programme said about 2,000 people have been registering for a Covid-19 vaccine daily over recent days. Damien McCallion said since Thursday the figures have doubled from around 800 to 1,000 people registering per day.
Mr McCallion told RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland programme on Monday that a national campaign will run over the next 10 days encouraging those who have yet come forward for a Covid-19 vaccine to do so.
He said that more than 60 per cent of the people being treated in intensive care are unvaccinated.
Mr McCallion said the campaign will focus on those who are medically vulnerable and deemed high risk along with others who have received their first dose but not their second and some who registered but didn’t receive the vaccine.
He said the HSE will also be looking at geographic areas where take-up is low and running targeted local campaigns.
He said those coming forward for vaccination at the moment are “spread broadly across all the ages” including some people in their 80s.
Mr McCallion also said there are about 1,800 healthcare staff out of work due to Covid-19, either sick with the virus or deemed a close contact.
He said this was significant “both in terms of the people themselves and the impact on the services they work in”.
He said the National Immunisation Advisory Committee was looking at the issue of healthcare workers receiving a booster vaccine and that their advice "has served us well".
“From an operational perspective in the HSE we’re making contingency plans so that when that advice comes we can move fairly quickly and in general because people registered first time round we will be able to proactively call people,” he said.
He said people over 65 in long-term residential care and the over 80s are currently receiving booster vaccines.