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virus fears GPs are once again reporting worrying spike in number of Covid test referrals


Micheal Martin

Micheal Martin

Micheal Martin

GPs are once again reporting the worrying trend of an increase in the number of people being referred for coronavirus tests.

The daily case number rose to 646 yesterday amid warnings another surge will curtail next month's easing of restrictions.

It comes as fears grow that a rise in cases in recent days may be a signal of complacency which could trigger another increase in spread before the Covid-19 vaccine is rolled out to more at-risk groups in the coming weeks.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin warned yesterday that progress made between now and April 5 will determine what level of loosening of restrictions will be possible.

The numbers illustrate "the dangers of the UK variant", he said.

He added that "with a week to go to April 5, we will announce and tell people what we are planning to do".

"We have already said that we are going to look at construction, outdoor activity and quality-of-life issues for people," he told RTÉ News.

"We are all agreed now that we must proceed cautiously. There is no point in opening up and having to close again."

Counties which have the highest 14-day incidence are Longford, Offaly, Dublin and Meath. The counties with the lowest incidence are Leitrim, Kilkenny, Cork, Kerry and Sligo.

There were 10 more deaths reported yesterday among people aged between 41 and 83 years, bringing the death toll to 4,518 so far in the pandemic.

One year on from the first Covid-19-related deaths here, a new international meta-analysis of global studies shows that intensive care mortality from Covid-19 has continued to fall since the start of the pandemic, but the improvement is slowing and may have plateaued.

The study by Professor Tim Cook, a consultant in intensive care medicine in Bath, England, published in the journal Anaesthesia, pointed to an analysis in July 2020 which concluded that overall mortality of Covid-19 patients in intensive care units had fallen from almost 60pc at the end of March 2020 to 42pc by May, a relative decrease of one third.

This new research shows that, in studies up to October 2020, intensive care mortality has fallen again to 36pc.

Thus, while the situation is still improving, the pace of progress has slowed substantially.

The authors said that in the last few months, several studies have clarified which treatments do and do not provide benefit in the intensive care management of Covid-19.

Steroids, particularly dexamethasone, were shown in early June to improve survival in patients who are oxygen-dependent or receiving mechanical respiratory support.

The drugs including hydroxychloroquine, azithromycin, lopinavir and remdesivir have been shown to have no clear mortality benefit.

They also note that management of Covid-19 has also likely evolved over the year with changes in approaches to oxygen therapy, fluid therapy and management of blood clotting.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospital here has fallen to 344, with 87 in intensive care.

However the number of patients in hospital is still the same as it was in November.

The Irish Cancer Society said that due to hospital restrictions on visitors, more people than ever want to die at home.

It is looking to recruit more nurses to meet the increasing demand for its night nursing service.

Requests for the free service for patients being cared for by family and friends in their homes surged by as much as 76pc in Kildare, 70pc in Wicklow and 60pc in Dublin.

Separately, new figures showed the huge backlog of non-Covid care which is building up as hospitals are obliged to put many services on hold.

There are now nearly 877,000 people waiting to see a specialist or receive care,

Figures show a 56pc increase in the number of patients waiting for hospital pain treatment since pandemic began.

More than 1,700 are now waiting longer than a year for treatment - more than a three-fold increase since February 2020, according an analysis of figures by the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA)

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association pointed to chronic pain as a debilitating condition that requires timely access to care.

However, this care is being delayed for more than 5,300 currently, with over 1,700 waiting longer than a year for treatment.

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