Nearly 2,000 Covid patients in hospital but close contacts falling

The warning comes as 60 more people with Covid-19 have died and 3,231 new cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday.
Nearly 2,000 Covid patients in hospital but close contacts falling

Staff levels and bed capacity have been impacted by rising Covid hospitalisations. File picture.

Covid-19 hospitalisations are continuing to rise with 1,923 people now in hospital with the virus. with 195 patients in intensive care.

108 people have been admitted to hospital in the last 24 hours and 41 people have left.

There were 19 admissions to intensive care units (ICU) and eight discharges.

11 hospitals are without any critical care beds and there are currently 24 critical care beds available for adults and 14 for children.

GP Advisor to the HSE, Dr Ray Walley, said close contacts are down but improvements in numbers are not happening fast enough in order to halt the rising hospitalisations.

"We need to consider that we all have Covid-19 to stay away from each other and to ensure that we do not infect each other. 

"But yes the contact numbers have gone down from the end of December from close contacts of six down to 2.3 but that is still too high," said Dr Walley.    

The HSE Advisor said while the case numbers are coming down, we still have a long way to go as the Covid situation has deteriorated so much. 

Dr Walley said: "We are still the country in Europe that has the worst figures. When we say things are improving, they are improving from an astronomical high. 

"The mood music behind the scenes is, unfortunately, our hospitals and surge capacity; we are still in very difficult times with a projection of 600 to 1,000 deaths in January.

"People need to listen to that because people need to stay away from each other."

UK Variant dominating

The Director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory meanwhile has said the UK variant of Covid-19 will become the dominant variant in Ireland.

Dr Cillian De Gascun said the new variant is better at moving from person to person, and has urged the public to reduce its opportunities to spread by cutting out socialising.

"Simply put, it is better at moving from person to person when we come into contact. So what we must do is reduce its opportunities to spread by cutting out socialising. Stay home," he said. 

Close contacts of confirmed cases are not being tested. Picture: Collins

Close contacts of confirmed cases are not being tested. Picture: Collins

Dr De Gascun urged the public to "remember the simple and effective measures from springtime" and to follow public health guidelines. 

The warning comes as 60 more people with Covid-19 have died and 3,231 new cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday.

Contact tracing

Meanwhile, Dublin City University (DCU) Professor of Public Health, Anthony Staines has said the country's contact tracing system is still not good enough and is a crucial missing piece in Ireland's Covid-19 strategy. 

"I think the piece we are still missing, nearly 10 months now into the pandemic, is we don't have an adequate contact tracing system working nationally. 

"We are not finding cases fast enough, we are not finding their contacts fast enough, we are not isolating contacts, supporting contacts to be isolated. 

"At the moment we have stopped testing contacts and I think that needs to change as fast as possible," said Professor Staines. 

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