More than 10,000 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Ireland on Monday through a combination of PCR and antigen tests, as the Government considers moving towards a phased removal of restrictions.
A further 6,329 cases were confirmed by PCR test, while 4,810 people registered a positive antigen test through the HSE portal on Sunday.
Self-registered antigen test results are provisional and are not directly comparable with laboratory PCR confirmed cases, the Department of Health said.
Pressure remains on the hospital system, with 13 hospitals having no available intensive care unit (ICU) or high dependency unit (HDU) beds.
Out of the 320 or so open and staffed ICU/HDU beds, 271 were occupied by adults and 23 were occupied by children as of 8pm on January 16th, according to figures published by the Health Service Executive (HSE).
There were just 17 adult and eight paediatric beds available, including six that were being held in reserve.
Of a total of 294 patients who were being treated in ICU/HDU, 88 were Covid-confirmed patients, and of the 155 people who were being “invasively ventilated” in hospitals, 61 were Covid-confirmed.
The Mater Hospital in Dublin had the highest number (15) of Covid-confirmed patients in ICU/HDU, followed by Beaumont (9), University Hospital Limerick (8), St James’s (8), Tallaght (5) and St Vincent’s (4).
A total of 972 Covid patients were being treated in hospital, with the most (84) at Galway University Hospital, 72 at University Hospital Limerick, 61 at the Mater in Dublin, 53 at University Hospital Kerry and 50 at St Vincent’s in Dublin.
Pressure also continues on general bed capacity, with beds full at Connolly, Kilkenny, Mullingar, St Vincent’s, Tallaght, and Tullamore hospitals. In total, there were 194 general beds available in 23 hospitals.
Amid high case numbers fuelled by the Omicron variant, the country’s chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan appealed to the public on Monday to wear appropriate face masks as close contact rules ease.
It is now recommended that medical grade or FFP2 masks are used by:
- Anyone 13 years and older who is a confirmed case, a close contact or who has symptoms suggestive of Covid;
- Over-60s and vulnerable people of all ages in indoor or crowded outdoor places;
- Anyone visiting a healthcare setting or visiting those who are vulnerable to Covid in any setting.
Dr Holohan also appealed to those eligible for a booster dose of a Covid vaccine to come forward, noting that research indicates 68 per cent of those who are fully vaccinated and aged under 35 years are not yet boosted.
“The best way to protect yourself against the most severe impacts of Covid-19 is to get your booster dose of Covid-19 vaccine. The evidence shows that people who have received a booster are less susceptible to infection and, if infected, are less infectious to others," he said.
It comes as hundreds of thousands of doses of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines due to expire in the next two weeks.
Amid calls for an easing of rules impacting the hospitality sector, the World Health Organisation’s special convoy on Covid cautioned earlier on Monday that restrictions should not be eased because the sector is facing difficulty.
Any decisions should be made on the basis of the health risk, he said.
In Northern Ireland, another 3,295 cases of the virus were recorded on Monday, while a further four people who previously tested positive had died.