Covid-19: cases and capacity in hospitals

University Hospital Limerick (UHL).
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Muireann Duffy

Despite general positivity from public health experts and Government regarding the effectiveness of current measures in driving the spread of Covid-19 down, hospitals are continuing to battle against a second surge of the virus.

Since adopting Level 5 restrictions on October 21st, the 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 has fallen from 270.8 to 129.1 today according to the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).

Although the number of patients being treated for Covid-19 in Irish hospitals has decreased slightly from the second wave highs recorded at the end of October, the HSE is warning that outbreaks in some hospitals are of great concern.

Significant outbreaks in Naas General Hospital, Letterkenny and Limerick University Hospitals, including Ennis Hospital which operates within the UHL group have led to almost 300 staff being off work.

Speaking on Thursday, HSE chief executive Paul Reid said Naas was “back to where it was in April” as elective surgeries and outpatient appointments were cancelled for two weeks to ease the pressure.


Similar measures were taken in Limerick and Ennis, where all routine outpatient appointments and most elective procedures were cancelled today and yesterday.

Today, the Department of Health confirmed 482 cases of Covid-19 had been confirmed in the past 24 hours, with seven additional deaths, there are also now 258 patients being treated for the virus in hospitals, 35 of whom are in ICUs.

According to the HSE’s daily operations update published on Thursday, UHL had the highest number of total confirmed Covid-19 cases with 41, followed by Tallaght (31), Naas (28) and Letterkenny (23).

The report showed that as of 8am on November 12th, there were 245 general beds (excluding critical care) available around the country.

No general beds were available at that time in Cavan, Mullingar, Portiuncula or St. Vincent’s while only one bed was available in Letterkenny, University Hospital Kerry and UHL.

Critical care capacity also continues to be an area of concern for the HSE as many patients experiencing serve symptoms of the virus often require ICU admission.


At 6.30pm on November 12th there were 42 adult critical care beds available nationwide with the report noting that not all of these may actually be available as they may be specialist beds.

St. Vincent’s and Cork University Hospital had the highest number of available critical care beds with four each, followed by UHL, Tallaght, St. James’, Letterkenny and Beaumont with three.

There were no critical care beds available in the Mater, Mercy, South Tipperary, Tullamore or Wexford hospitals.

Critical care beds

According to the report, there are currently 284 adult critical care beds opened and staffed around the country, however 238 of these were occupied as of 6.30pm on Thursday, 38 of which were patients with confirmed Covid-19.

A further 24 critical care beds were said to be reserved for patients.

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In the previous 24 hours to 8am yesterday, one death from the virus had occurred. There were also 23 patients with Covid-19 on ventilators.

The breakdown of confirmed cases of Covid-19 in critical care units found UHL had the highest number with five cases, followed by Wexford, Tallaght and Drogheda with four each.

Cork University Hospital and the Mater had three cases while St. Vincent’s, St. James’, Connolly and Mayo hospitals had two.

Considering these figures, the HSE and public health experts are urging people to adhere to current restrictions in order to drive the rate of infection down and avoid further strain on our health services.

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