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Staying open Health Minister Stephen Donnelly says there are 'no plans' for restrictions despite Covid surge

Donnelly says Holohan advises no need for new curbs, despite healthcare stress


Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Several hundred thousand people are being infected by Covid-19 each but there are no plans for restrictions to be re-introduced, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said.

Mr Donnelly said ‘serious measures’ would be needed to reduce the surge of infections and reiterated the advice from Chief Medical officer Tony Holohan that there is currently no need for new Covid rules.

"The sub variant that we’re dealing with now, the BA2 variant, is very, very contagious and the kind of measures you would need to radically reduce the spread would be really quite serious measures indeed,” the Health Minister told a private Fianna Fáil party members meeting last night.

“If we’re registering 10,000 to 15,000 cases a day through PCR and antigen tests, you can be sure the actual numbers are several times that much,” Mr Donnelly said.

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“We are most likely looking at several hundred thousand new Covid cases per week at the moment, which is a very high number,” he added.

The Health Minister said the surge in cases was putting pressure on the country’s hospital system.

However, he said there is still a "relatively low number" of people in critical care.

“Where that is causing real stress on the healthcare system is on the number of hospital patients we have, as of today, we recorded 1,600 patients that tested positive for Covid,” he said.

“About half of them are in because of Covid and about half of them are asymptomatic, they tested positive for Covid but it’s not why they’re there. In terms of actual patients in because of Covid, it’s about 800.”

It comes as emergency consultants said conditions are now worse than they have ever been.

They said a five-hour wait to be admitted to a bed results in one additional death for every 82 patients.

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If the delay extends to six to eight hours there is a risk of a further additional death.

“This should ring alarm bells,” the doctors in the Irish Association of Emergency Medicine warned.

Dr Fergal Hickey, an emergency consultant in Sligo and spokesman for the body, said patients can wait days on a trolley and there is “no convincing evidence” that politicians or managers recognise the “threat to life” this poses.

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