It is not “certain” that hospitals will endure a “catastrophic winter” amid a predicted surge of COVID and flu cases, the Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE has said.
Officials have warned hospitals that a so-called “twindemic” of soaring COVID and flu cases this winter could hospitalise some 20,000 individuals.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has conceded that the health service is facing “a very difficult winter” but Dr Colm Henry says it might not be as bad as people fear:
“We’re right to be concerned, a lot of people have expressed concern in recent weeks but it’s possible but by no means certain that we’re going to see a twindemic,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.
“When we look at the trend of influenza in Australia, that’s usually a signal to ourselves, we see there was an early spike in cases and it didn’t translate through to huge pressures on their healthcare system.
“And what we call the case fatality - the proportion of cases who become so serious that they die - was perhaps lower than previous years and the hospitalisation impact in Australia was lower than in big flu years of 2017 or 2019.”
He added that Ireland enjoys “some natural immunity… to COVID” and also a high level of vaccination.
“It’s a time of uncertainty but so far the signals don’t direct us towards a catastrophic winter,” he concluded.
“But we’re watching closely. Surveillance is everything here and vigilance is everything.”
Main image: An intensive care nurse. Picture by: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa