Total of 52 Covid-19 deaths since HSE cyberattack, figures show

Eighteen deaths reported so far in June, according to HPSC data

Testing levels at the HSE’s walk-in centres is at its highest in about three weeks, says national lead on testing and contract tracing. File photograph: Alan Betson

Testing levels at the HSE’s walk-in centres is at its highest in about three weeks, says national lead on testing and contract tracing. File photograph: Alan Betson

 

There has been a total of 52 reported deaths from Covid-19 since the cyber attack on the Health Service Executive six weeks ago.

Daily death figures have not been published since May 13th, when the number of those who died in the State as a result of the virus stood at 4,937.

It is now 4,989, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) as of Wednesday, June 23rd.

To date in June there have been 18 recorded deaths. The figure at the start of the month stood at 4,971. There were 68 deaths reported in May.

Since the HSE cyberattack there has been no breakdown in how many deaths have occurred since the attack on May 14th and how many are historic – meaning they occurred in previous months but are only being recorded now.

The HSE’s national lead on testing and contract tracing, Niamh O’Beirne, said she was “not aware of any concerns” in relation to deaths at present.

The last update on deaths was given by the HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry a month ago. He said in the 12 days after the data breach there had been eight deaths.

He added that the number of deaths from the disease had “collapsed” as a result of the Covid-19 vaccination programme which targeted those most at risk of dying as a result of the virus.

Ms O’Beirne said the 443 cases reported on Saturday was indicative of a trend with a rise in the number of people presenting for testing.

She said testing levels at the HSE’s walk-in centres across the country was at its highest in about three weeks.

Regional breakdown

The highest levels of activity have been in Galway, Roscommon and Mayo in Connacht, as well as in Offaly, Westmeath, Meath, Waterford and south Tipperary.

The hours for the walk-in test centre in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, have been extended into Sunday because of a rise in cases in the town. Some 1,300 swabs have been taken at the testing centre in the town’s community hospital since Thursday.

“The numbers have been increasing across testing sites. We will be monitoring to see if that is an upward trend, but it has certainly stopped going downwards for now,” she said.

“We said a number of weeks ago, we will continue to keep our testing and tracing infrastructure in place. We have no plans to adjust that or downsize that for the foreseeable future. We can still do 25,000 tests and we can still lab process.”

The positivity rate among the under-40s is 7.5 per cent and is highest in the 15-24 age bracket.

Unvaccinated population

“The disease is largely now in the unvaccinated population and that tends to be younger people,” she said.

There is usually a lag between a rise in cases and a rise in hospitalisations as occurred in January, but it is, as of yet, “unknown” if that will occur now given vaccination rates, she stressed.

She said the cases of Covid-19 currently showing have arisen from a mixture of situations, including socialising which begins outdoors and moves indoors, travelling, such as sharing lifts, and workplace settings.

“With more workplaces being open, you will find more workplace outbreaks,” she said.

There has been a substantial community transmission outbreak in Dundalk, Co Louth, where the Marshes Shopping Centre has been opened as a walk-in testing site because of a combination of family and workplace clusters in the town.

It takes two weeks to genome sequence for the Delta variant of Covid-19, which is more transmissible.

Ms O’Beirne said they are dealing with suspected Delta variant cases by using enhanced tracing, which includes expanding the definition of a close contact while the genome sequencing is taking place.