3,428 new cases of Covid as IMO warns of ‘perfect storm’
The Department of Health was told of 3,428 new cases of Covid-19 as the Irish Medical Organization warned health services were hit by a “perfect storm”.
There are 478 patients with the virus in hospital, 34 more than yesterday. The number in intensive care has increased from one to 75.
The President of the IMO expressed his deep concern at the still high rate of Covid-19 infection across the country.
Public health specialist Dr Ina Kelly warned: “The next two weeks will be critical not only for the outlook for Covid but for the wider health service.
“Our GP surgeries, hospitals and intensive care units are all under extraordinary pressure. We are hit by a perfect storm of high Covid numbers, the annual winter flu season, and insanely high numbers on the to-do lists. ‘waiting.”
Dr Kelly said the public could help medical professionals by increasing their own vigilance and maintaining a strong sense of personal responsibility.
“People have done incredibly well over the past 18 months, but the weeks leading up to Christmas will be critical. For those who have not yet been vaccinated, please get vaccinated urgently.
“For those who have been vaccinated, do not treat the vaccine as permission to go back to the old ways. Continue to be cautious. Wear masks. Wash your hands and keep your distance.”
Dr Kelly said IMO was particularly concerned about the repercussions of any increase in hospitalizations. “Our waiting lists are already in a terrible state. We cannot afford to lose hospital staff and hospital beds to Covid 19.”
In Northern Ireland, 1,035 more positive cases of the virus have been confirmed today, along with four more deaths.
“You just have to deploy it as quickly as possible”
Meanwhile, a professor of immunovirology at University College Cork said vaccine boosters have a role to play in slowing the transmission of Covid-19 and should be rolled out to everyone as quickly as possible.
Professor Liam Fanning said the roll-out of the booster vaccines should have started six weeks ago and been cleared for use now in the 40+ years.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor program, Professor Fanning said “just roll it out as quickly as possible”.
Professor Fanning said data shows this is a three-shot vaccine and that he “cannot understand” the time taken by the National Immunization Advisory Committee to clear its use in workers health and those over 60.
He said the effectiveness of booster vaccines has been proven in Israel, where a study showed an 11-fold decrease in Covid-19 infections in those over 60 years after booster administration.
Latest Coronavirus Stories
The minister of state at the agriculture ministry said he would like to see the booster vaccines extended to more age groups.
Speaking on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics, Martin Heydon said the immunization schedule was not the only mitigation measure, and that there was also testing and tracing, wearing masks and work from home whenever possible.
“It’s the series of different approaches that will allow us to keep the country open all winter,” Heydon said.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said up to 1.4 million booster shots are expected to be distributed to people over 60 in the coming weeks.
Speaking on RTÉ’s This Week, he said the government will continue to be guided by advice from NIAC which will review the use of the vaccine in those under the age of 60.
Mr Donnelly said Ireland will be led by the European Medicines Agency on any decision to vaccinate people aged 5 to 11.
He said NIAC is working with EMA on this.