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capacity fears Up to 116 patients caught Covid in Irish hospitals in the past two weeks


Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said everyone should continue to make every effort they can to drive down the disease

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said everyone should continue to make every effort they can to drive down the disease

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said everyone should continue to make every effort they can to drive down the disease

Up to 116 hospital patients who were admitted with non-Covid illnesses in the last two weeks, were infected with the virus while in hospital as winter overcrowding now reaches critical levels.

The healthcare-acquired infections caught in hospital during their stay highlight the massive strain on services as daily cases of Covid-19 soared to 5,483 yesterday.

Another six Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital yesterday, bringing the total to 549, of whom 96 are seriously ill in intensive care, a reduction of one overnight.

Five people a day are still dying from Covid.

In a major blow, one of the country’s biggest hospitals, the Mater in Dublin, is being forced to cancel many outpatient appointments and elective surgeries until further notice due to the pressures.

It has limited its activities to essential services since yesterday evening.

The three children’s hospitals in Dublin – Crumlin, Temple Street and Tallaght – are curtailing some elective operations for the third week running due a surge in winter respiratory illnesses.

It comes after two leading paediatric orthopaedic surgeons, Connor Greene and Damien McCormack, warned that young children denied timely care are ending up in wheelchairs.

And consultants in University Hospital Kerry held a crisis meeting with HSE executives, warning patient safety is at risk because of a shortage of beds and staff. Elective surgery at the hospital has been suspended since mid-September and a “totally inadequate” number of single rooms is increasing infection control risks, they warned.

The worry now is that hospitals across the country have yet to reach their winter peak and seriously ill patients will again have their care put on hold and risk deteriorating.

Prof Alan Irvine, president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, said nearly one million people are now on a hospital waiting list and even the HSE’s modest target to reduce the queues by 36,000 by the end of the year will not be met.

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He warned: “The early winter surge is seeing the widespread cancellation of operations and outpatient appointments already across public hospitals.”

Prof Jack Lambert, an infectious disease consultant at UCD, said he was informed by some HIV patients, who are invited for a booster Covid-19 vaccine, that they will have to travel outside their county for the jab at a HSE vaccination centre.

In one instance this involved travelling from Dublin to Kildare.

“This is an emergency,” he added. Booster shots should be rolled out as quickly and conveniently as possible, he stressed.


Dr Jack Lambert

Dr Jack Lambert

Dr Jack Lambert

The HSE said it is using its vaccination record data to invite people for an appointment for a booster.

Individuals will be offered an appointment in their “nearest vaccination centre based on their Eircode”.

Text messages informing people of their appointments are issued at least 48 hours in advance of an appointment, a spokeswoman said.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan this weekend said everyone should try to continue to make every effort they can to drive down the disease and break the chains of transmission.

“Before you leave the house, think about the number of people you are going to meet, and the risk associated with the activities you have planned,” Dr Holohan said. “Keep your contacts low and avoid crowds, wear a mask correctly, meet outside if possible, avoid poorly ventilated indoor spaces and practise good hand and respiratory hygiene.”

He added that “vaccines remain extraordinarily effective against severe disease, and the vast majority of people with Covid-19 are experiencing mild symptoms.

“However, the outcome for any one individual who is diagnosed with Covid-19 is uncertain and it remains vital that we all continue to adhere to the public health advice in order to protect ourselves and our families.

“If you have any symptoms of Covid-19, you should assume that you have this virus, self-isolate immediately and arrange a test.”

“Do not assume that it’s just a cough or a cold,” he added.

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