Mortality rates from Covid-19 are expected to rise in the coming weeks, with public health experts warning “the pandemic is now growing”.
The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) gave its first briefing since late August on Wednesday, as the number of cases, hospital admissions and deaths linked to the virus continues to grow.
There have been 72 deaths so far in October, with 16 of those occurring in the last week.
The five-day moving average is 1,937, while 24,641 new cases were recorded over the last two weeks.
Professor Philip Nolan said: “Given the increase in case counts, unfortunately we will expect to see an increase in mortality in the weeks to come.”
Prof Nolan said the high level of vaccination across society has seen the risk of infection become “much more evenly spread among the population”.
“It’s higher for the unvaccinated than it is for the vaccinated, but it’s evenly distributed across the age cohorts in the population,” he said.
“So now, because the risk is even, we’re beginning to see more older people becoming infected and then being admitted to hospital.”
He added: “What that means is we’re likely to see that increase in case numbers translating into an increasing number of people in hospital in the weeks ahead.”
“The pandemic is now growing in Ireland,” Prof Nolan added, saying cases are now increasing by between two and three per cent per day, with hospital numbers growing at a similar rate.
Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said he accepted it was difficult to understand why the figures are so high, when Ireland has such high rates of vaccination.
He said: “The reality is with the level of transmission that this virus has, suppressions through vaccination – as good as this vaccine is – is not enough on its own to control transmission.”
He said the protection offered by vaccines had to be combined with personal behaviours, such as mask wearing and social distancing.
Dr Holohan said a “collective” effort is now needed to maintain suppression of the virus.
He said: “Our collective assessment is that there needs to be focus on our entire behaviour across the population to achieve that, in terms of the effective suppression of this virus, on top of what we’re already achieving.
“That’s going to mean responsibility on the part of individuals but also on the part of individual sectors.
“Not to have focus exclusively on small elements of society that remain closed, like nightclubs.
“But actually to focus on what it is that each one of us can do within our individual lives, within our families, within our workplaces, within our social settings.
“And what we as leaders of the sectors can achieve in terms of suppression of the virus.
“In summary, there is no silver bullet solution for this.
— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) October 20, 2021
“It’s going to be our basic and collective commitments to all the measures that we know will suppress, that have already suppressed this virus in the past, that we need to achieve, over the course of the next number of weeks and months, to mitigate and prevent some of the potential effects of the transmission that’s occurring.”
He said the majority of deaths are still occurring in the unvaccinated population, which he said was evidence of the effectiveness of the vaccines.
Wednesday saw an additional 2,148 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 464 patients in hospital with the virus, with 86 of those in intensive care units.