Covid-19: Hospital numbers fall below 600 for first time since new year

Nphet has told the Minister for Health that there could be 300 to 400 people in hospital by the third week in March. Photo: PA Images.
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The number of patients with Covid-19 in public hospitals has fallen below 600 for the first time since early January.

There are currently 593 people with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals — the lowest number of patients since January 2nd.

The number represents a nine per cent fall on yesterday's number, and a 23 per cent reduction on last Thursday's total.

There have been 19 admissions and 52 discharges over the past 24 hours.

Earlier on Thursday morning, chief executive of the HSE Paul Reid said there were 597 people hospitalised with the virus overnight, with 135 people in intensive care units (ICU).

“Some welcome news for our exhausted healthcare staff too. This is a long exit route from this wave for everyone. But we will get there,” he tweeted.

Public health officials have said the number of Covid-19 patients in hospital and intensive care could be halved in less than a month, if current trends continue.

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has told the Minister for Health that there could be 300 to 400 people in hospital by the third week in March, and 50 to 70 in ICU.

The health service remains “extremely fragile” and the Covid-19 crisis has had an “enormous impact” on healthcare staff, health officials added.

Nphet said it was too early to advise when further restrictions can be eased, due to “current uncertainties”.

A further 56 deaths and 574 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the Republic on Wednesday evening, with the ages of those who died ranging from 16 to 97 years old.

Professor Cliona Ni Cheallaigh, a consultant in infectious diseases in Dublin, said the country is making progress.

“It looks like we’re starting to turn a corner and head in the right direction, we were stuck there around 1,000 cases per day for a while but it’s really encouraging that’s two days that we’ve been closer to 500,” she said.

“I suppose it’s still a very fragile time, so now is not the time to loosen up the measures because with this new variant, this UK variant, it’s much more transmissible, so it really seizes any opportunity that it has to transmit.”

GP referrals

Meanwhile, the number of patients contacting GPs with symptoms of Covid-19 has stalled over the past two weeks.

Dr Shane McKeogh of GP Buddy, which tracks calls to surgeries around the country, said doctors are seeing at new one new Covid-19 presentation each day.

“The last few weeks have seen a little bit of a stalling in the reducing of numbers to GPs with Covid, there has been obviously huge gains made since the start of January and coming down in a fairly sustained way,” he said.

“But over the last 10 days or so, it’s holding a little bit steady, those reductions we’d been seeing are tapering off a little bit, so although Covid has come down a lot, most GPs are having at least one — probably between one or two cases a day — that are ringing them.”

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