Covid-19 death toll passes 7,000 two years into pandemic

Weekend figures show cases and hospital admissions are all in decline

The number of Covid-19 deaths has passed the 7,000 mark, almost 26 months into the pandemic.

A total of 7,016 deaths of people with Covid-19 were reported on the Department of Health’s tracker on Monday, up 20 on last Friday.

Some 159 days have passed since 6,000 deaths were recorded. At the worst stage of the pandemic, it took just 17 days for the death toll to go from 3,000 to 4,000, in January-February 2021.

The official figure is regarded as an underestimate, though not everyone who dies with Covid-19 will have died from it. Northern Ireland has recorded 4,519 pandemic deaths.

There were 6,841 cases of Covid-19 confirmed over the weekend but the trend remains downwards.

There were 2,874 cases (1,547 PCR and 1,327 antigen tests) on Saturday, 1,721 cases (705 PCR/1,016 antigen tests) on Sunday and 2,246 cases (1,058 PCR/1,188 antigen tests) on Monday.

A month ago, by contrast, there was a peak of 9,147 cases of PCR-confirmed cases alone on March 25th.

The numbers in hospital and in ICU continues to decline overall. There were 535 people in hospital as of Monday morning. While this is up 15 on the previous day, numbers tend to rise slightly after weekends. Hospitalisations peaked in the current wave at 1,624 less than an month ago, on March 28th.

ICU admissions peaked at 61 on March 22nd. They now stand at 43, up two on Sunday’s figure.

Dominant strain

The latest regional breakdowns show that infections in the current wave reached a peak in the week March 21st-27th, but they fell 50 per cent the following week and are now only a quarter of what they just three weeks later.

The latest data shows Omicron quickly took over from Delta as the dominant strain of Covid-19 in Ireland at the end of November last year. Omicron was responsible for the huge number of cases around Christmas and the new year, though the strain was milder than Delta.

The BA.1 and BA.2 subvariants of Omicron in turn took over at the end of January from the original Omicron strain and now account for 92 per cent of all cases.

The data comes from the Johns Hopkins University in the United States, which has been monitoring Covid-19 since the beginning of the pandemic.

Dr Denis McCauley, chairman of the Irish Medical Organisation’s GP committee, said Covid-19 was still in the community, but hospital admissions had come down 25-30 per cent recently.

The people who are not doing well are those who are not vaccinated or do not have their booster, he added.

The number of deaths of those with a Covid-19 test is likely to officially surpass 7,000 this week, though it is unclear how many people died as a result of the virus.

“I would recommend that people who are immunocompromised or over the age of 65 should take their second booster,” he said.

“Covid was awful, it caused a lot of death and morbidity, but we have acclimatised ourselves to living with Covid because it is becoming a little bit less significant.

“We are aware that Covid is there. We are aware that we have to live with Covid, but at the same time deaths are occurring. Is it still causing the same shock and awe as it was? No, it isn’t.”