HSE warns of strain as numbers hospitalised with Covid-19 surge

Rise in infections having a ‘very disruptive effect’ on healthcare services, Colm Henry says

The number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital is the highest it has been since shortly after the lifting of restrictions in January.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre said on Thursday that it had been notified of 4,065 PCR-confirmed cases of COVID-19 while 7,617 people had registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal on Wednesday.

As of 8am on Thursday, it said, 877 COVID-19 patients were hospitalised with 41 in ICU.

The numbers have been climbing steadily since reaching a low for the year of 579 on February 12th.


HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said the rise in Covid-19 hospital figures was troubling as it comes at a time when there are record numbers attending emergency departments, many of them older people.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives’ Association’s trolley watch counted 477 admitted patients waiting for beds on Wednesday morning. This included 404 patients waiting in the emergency department and 73 on wards elsewhere in hospitals.

Dr Henry also acknowledged that the recent rise in cases is having a “very disruptive effect” on the flow of patients through hospitals.

The absence of staff as a result of infection with the disease is also having an impact on acute hospitals and residential care settings, he said.

However, Dr Henry stressed that half of the patients hospitalised with the disease arrived to be treated for other conditions and subsequently tested positive.

The number of patients in intensive care specifically for Covid is also falling, he added.

There has been a steady decline in the numbers in intensive care with Covid-19. It has fallen from 97 on January 17th to 51 on Wednesday morning.

Dr Henry also said the HSE was focused on providing access to medical services for refugees arriving from Ukraine.

When asked about the pressures the health service was already facing, Dr Henry told RTÉ radio's Morning Ireland that Ireland had a long tradition of providing assistance and the hand of friendship "even when we have troubles of our own."

He believed the troubles being faced by the people of Ukraine “put our own in perspective”.