The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is estimating that 2,200 people could be in hospital with Covid-19 next week.
It says there will be a peak in admissions around January 16th following the surge in cases after Christmas.
General secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Phil Ni Sheadhaga says the virus has had a big impact on healthcare staff: “The number we have is 3,837 who have been infected with Covid-19 unfortunately.
“I suppose there are two aspects two it: one is some of them recovery quickly and come back to work.
“The other is those who suffer long term effects of Covid-19 and we are seeing a high number of those.”
It comes as hospitals are bracing themselves for the worst conditions of the pandemic so far, as the Christmas surge of Covid-19 cases hits hospitals and ICU units in the coming days.
As the Irish Times reports, ministers and senior officials say next week will see the most severe test of the health service since the pandemic began as a proportion of the very high numbers of positive cases reported since Christmas will become seriously ill and require hospital care.
“Next week is it,” one minister said.
Modelling by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) shows pressures on hospitals peaking at some time between January 16th and 22nd, with sources estimating that the most likely peak will be around the 16th when Nphet expects roughly 1,300 people will be in hospital with Covid in an optimistic scenario..
But the number of positive cases continues to hit record levels, with 8,248 new cases reported on Friday night, and a further 20 deaths recorded.
One official said he expected to see several days of “significant hospital admissions” but that the situation should “ease off” after that.
Health sources said that hospitals were preparing to use ventilators outside intensive care units if the ICUs reach capacity in the next week. The health service has about 400 ICU beds but has access to about 1,800 ventilators.
We are preparing to provide care to people outside the ICU setting,” one official said.
There are some signs that the post-Christmas surge of infections may be abating, with the positivity rate of tests and GP referrals showing signs of easing off.
But there was further worry last night when the Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan confirmed that three cases of the South African variant of the virus had been detected in Ireland.