Thousands of health service staff are set to be redeployed and a deal allowing the use of private hospital capacity is to be triggered this week in order to cope with the unprecedented rise in Covid-19 cases.
As the Irish Times reports, with officials warning that up to 2,500 virus patients could potentially need a hospital bed within the next two weeks, and 400 may require intensive care (ICU) treatment, surge plans are expected to be activated in the coming days.
Despite signs that case numbers have stabilised, the health service is expected to come under intense pressure for the next week or two as hospitalisations and ICU admissions rise further before the situation starts to improve.
The number of Covid-19 patients in ICU, currently at 146, is expected to surpass last spring’s peak as soon as today. Half of these patients are on ventilators.
Officials said on Monday night that with case numbers stabilising at about 6,000 a day, hospitalisations will peak at 2,200-2,500 people in 10-14 days’ time, with 200-400 people in ICU.
Figures will be at the worse end of the spectrum if people do not stick to the lockdown measures, Prof Philip Nolan of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) warned.
ICU capacity is about 300 but this can be stretched through surge measures while some patients can be given high-flow oxygen on ordinary wards.
There was much better news on Monday about vaccines though. Supplies of the Moderna jab, which was authorised last week, will arrive in Ireland at the end of the week.
Separately, large quantities of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine should be available here immediately after authorisation if, as expected, is given by the European Medicines Agency at the end of the month, officials said.
Another eight deaths and 4,929 Covid-19 cases were reported on Monday, pushing the total number of cases over the 150,000 mark just eight days after the 100,000 case mark was exceeded