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'get booster' HSE chief executive Paul Reid says Covid trends giving 'great hope’ as hospitalisations drop

The number of people being treated in hospital for the virus has dropped in the past 24 hours to 940

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HSE chief executive Paul Reid

HSE chief executive Paul Reid

HSE chief executive Paul Reid

There is a consistent set of Covid-19 trends that are giving “great hope” in terms of the current wave of the virus, HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said.

The number of people in hospital with the virus fell by 80 in the past 24 hours to 940, and the number in ICU also declined to 83 as of Friday.

There are also fewer people in hospital on oxygen support after contracting the virus, Mr Reid said.

“A consistent set of Covid-19 trends give great hope. Hospital cases down to 940, ICU at 83 and fewer patients on oxygen support. GP referrals and overall cases down. Booster vaccines and the public's response have so far eased the worst impacts. Please get your booster ASAP,” Mr Reid said on Twitter.

In recent days public health officials have indicated that up to 30pc of the patients in hospital with the virus were ‘incidental’ cases rather than people being treated for the severe effects of Covid-19. This figure was closer to 5pc before the Omicron wave.

However, they also highlighted that the overwhelming majority of people in ICU with the virus were there for treatment due to Covid-19. Health officials also stressed that while the incidental cases in hospital were largely mild to moderate, it still places a severe burden on staff due to infection prevention and control measures.

The number of people testing positive for the virus has also fallen in recent days from a high of over 26,000 daily cases last Saturday to just over 17,000 on Friday. This could be partly due to the change to testing criteria in which only people over 40 or under the age of three can book a PCR without having a positive antigen result now.

The portal to register positive antigen test results for those aged four to 39 only opened yesterday, as this age group no longer needs to book a confirmatory PCR test.

Test positivity has remained very high - in the region of 45pc in recent days - meaning incidence of the virus in the community is still very high.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said this week that it appears the effect of the Omicron wave appears to be “much less than might have been anticipated” in terms of translating to severe outcomes and hospitalisation.

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