Testing of asymptomatic close contacts will resume tomorrow as the case numbers continue to decline, the head of the HSE said today, although he warned hospitals continue to see people who are more ill than in previous waves.
The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to be approved tomorrow, and the HSE Chief Clinical Officer said they are waiting for that EU advice before making decisions on use, although Germany already today said they will not give it to over-65s.
So far 161,600 vaccine shots have now been given, including 13,800 frontline healthcare workers who have now received two shots.
Overall case numbers are declining which the head of the HSE Paul Reid welcomed.
“We do want to get back to testing close contacts, we were testing close contacts in outbreaks.
“The programme will reinstate the calling and scheduling of appointments for close contacts, close contacts of a confirmed case will be referred for a test on Day 5,” he said.
There are now 181 open outbreaks in nursing homes which is close to one-third of the total number.
This has impacted on the vaccination programme with four homes who have not yet started at all and 117 homes where some people in the home have not yet been vaccinated.
The Irish Examiner reported today on HSE figures showing more than one in four nursing home staff have not taken part in the regular Covid-19 testing since June.
HSE Chief Operations Officer Ms Anne O’ Connor said today: “The majority of the homes do their own testing, in-house swabbing.
However later in the briefing, she said the numbers could be higher as the computer system does not record when staff quit their jobs or get the test later.
The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals in Munster has declined, but they remain in the top five most heavily affected hospitals nationally. Cork University Hospital has 109, University Hospital Limerick has 108 and University Hospital Waterford has 107 Covid patients.