'Great hope' as Covid-19 case numbers slowly declining

'Great hope' as Covid-19 case numbers slowly declining

HSE CEO Paul Reid speaking to media in Dr Steevens Hospital today at the weekly HSE operational update on the response to Covid-19. Photograph: Leah Farrell / Photocall Ireland

The number of Covid-19 cases continues to slowly decline with 34,923 new cases identified over the weekend using either PCR or Antigen tests.

Last weekend saw 47,506 cases identified through PCR testing alone with thousands more unable to get access to the tests.

Today, there were 965 Covid patients in hospitals which is 21 more than on Saturday, but below every other day earlier in the week, with 88 in ICU.

HSE CEO Paul Reid said that not only are case numbers declining but the situation in hospitals is starting to stabilise.

“A consistent set of #Covid19 trends give great hope,” he said, adding the number of patients who need oxygen support on wards outside of ICUs is decreasing. On social media at the weekend he stated:  

GP referrals & overall cases down. Booster vaccines and the public's response have so far eased the worst impacts. 

Data gathered for the GP Community Tracker shows a steady decline in the number of ‘potential Covid cases’ identified by each doctor, and the ‘absolute number of cases’ is also dropping, according to GP Buddy.

The same survey showed 40% of GP practices were understaffed up to last Wednesday, shortly before isolation rules for close contacts were changed.

The process between a 'nasty pandemic' and a much milder endemic would involve a 'bumpy next few months', according to WHO Covid-19 envoy, David Nabarro. Picture: Imperial College London/PA Wire
The process between a 'nasty pandemic' and a much milder endemic would involve a 'bumpy next few months', according to WHO Covid-19 envoy, David Nabarro. Picture: Imperial College London/PA Wire

It is expected that wider use of antigen testing will give a more accurate case count as positive results can now be entered on the HSE website. The first day showed 5,406 positives with 4,209 on Saturday.

There is also growing optimism the Omicron variant is having a less severe effect in general with some exceptions. 

Optimism from WHO special envoy

This follows comments today by World Health Organization special envoy on Covid-19 David Nabarro.

Dr Nabarro said he is far more positive about the future course of the pandemic than he had been when the Omicron variant first arrived.

He said, however, the process between a “nasty pandemic” and a much milder endemic would not be smooth, and that it would lead to a “bumpy next few months”.

Speaking to the Business Post, he predicted the spread of the Omicron variant could signal the first phase of Covid-19 becoming like a common cold, and a more lethal strain is unlikely to be dominant in the future.

A number of hospitals were still struggling with very high numbers of Covid patients on Saturday.

University Hospital Limerick had 70 including eight Covid patients in ICU. There were 51 in University Hospital Kerry although just one in ICU. University Hospital Waterford had 36 including two in ICU and Cork University Hospital 35 with four Covid-patients in ICU.

Tipperary University Hospital in Clonmel had 27 patients with Covid-19, including one needing ICU care. There were 288 adult ICU beds staffed and open but 269 were occupied, including with 89 Covid patients. Just eight of the 32 paediatric ICU beds were available, with one filled by a child with Covid-19.

Meanwhile, the vaccination campaign continues with 2.4 million booster doses given to over-16s. Over the last few days, rollout began on a fourth dose for people with certain conditions with 105,880 doses given up to Saturday either as a third or fourth shot.

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