Ireland among lowest EU states for Covid patients in hospital

Covid-19 situation in Europe ‘deteriorating’ due to Delta variant spread, Hiqa review finds

The only countries of the 19 reviewed that had lower hospitalisation rates than Ireland were Israel, Norway, Denmark, and Czechia. File image: Getty images

The only countries of the 19 reviewed that had lower hospitalisation rates than Ireland were Israel, Norway, Denmark, and Czechia. File image: Getty images


The Covid-19 situation across Europe is “deteriorating” due to the spread of the Delta variant, however Ireland currently has one of the lowest rates of Covid-19 patients in hospital, a review has found.

Most countries are continuing to ease restrictions, while the rolling back of some measures have been delayed, the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) noted in an international review of Covid-19 measures.

The review stated Ireland had one of the lowest numbers of Covid-19 patients currently in hospital or intensive care, relative to its population.

The only countries of the 19 reviewed that had lower hospitalisation rates were Israel, Norway, Denmark, and Czechia (formerly the Czech Republic).

The State healthcare watchdog’s review found that out of 19 countries, eight were allowing people to use certain services if they were vaccinated.

Hiqa noted that in Austria, Denmark and Czechia Covid-19 health status, such as proof of vaccination, was required to access a wide range of services. These included indoor and outdoor dining, personal services, and large cultural, entertainment or sporting events.

The review noted that Ireland and Sweden were considering implementing Covid-19 certificates to allow people access services, such as indoor dining.

In France and Norway, proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 status was mandatory to attend large events, while in the Netherlands it was optional for bars, cinemas, and live music events to require proof of Covid-19 health status.

The review found in Italy proof of Covid-19 health status was used to facilitate visits to nursing homes, attend large events, and travel in and out of areas with high rates of the virus.

Nine countries accepted a recent negative Covid-19 test as proof of health status, to allow people to access certain services. These were Germany, Italy, France, Denmark, Austria, Czechia, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden.

The Hiqa review, which was prepared on foot of a request from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), was published on Wednesday.

It noted the numbers permitted to attend gatherings and live events varied greatly between countries, and in many cases depended on whether the venue was indoors or outdoors.

In England and Northern Ireland household gatherings were limited to six people, while the review found there were no limits on numbers of household visitors in the Netherlands.

The review outlined in Austria there were no public health limits on gatherings of less than 100 people, while in Germany events were limited to 50 people.

The health watchdog noted that places of worship were open in all countries, with limits to a maximum of 30 to 50 people in several countries, or 50 per cent capacity in others.

The review noted that business activities, such as retail, personal services, and the hospitality sector were largely open in most countries. In some cases, like in Denmark, Austria, and Czechia, people had to provide proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test to access personal services, it said.

Dr Máirín Ryan, Hiqa’s deputy chief executive and director of health technology assessment, said the review pointed to the need to remain cautious.

“While our rate of hospitalisations and ICU admissions is low, incidence rates are rising, which suggests an increase in hospitalisations may be ahead of us,” she said.

“In the European Union, Spain and Germany have the highest share of population that is fully vaccinated, at 39.5 per cent and 37.6 per cent respectively, with Ireland at 36.2 per cent,” she said.