Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

09.34 6 Mar 2021


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The number of people in intensive care with COVID-19 has fallen below 100 for the first time in over eight weeks.

99 patients are in ICUs in public hospitals which is less than half the number in late January.

It is also the lowest level since January 7th when 101 people with coronavirus were in intensive care.

There are currently 401 patients in hospital with the virus - the lowest this year.

It comes as nine additional deaths related to COVID-19 and 522 new confirmed cases were reported in Ireland yesterday.

The CEO of the HSE Paul Reid said the decrease in ICU figures was "a great sign", while the Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn says all the key indicators are going in the right direction and "real progress" is being made.

Dr Catherine Motherway, a Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine at University Hospital Limerick, added that the falling hospital admissions are encouraging.

Speaking to Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh, she said about one-third of public ICU beds nationwide are now occupied by people with coronavirus.

"Our numbers have fallen slowly, these people [in intensive care] are very sick and take quite a long time to improve," she said.

"So it's been a long and difficult time since Christmas in intensive care across the country but we're continuing to provide care to these patients."

ICU Beds in a new ward at Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, Dublin. Credit: PA

Dr Motherway explained that as the number of hospitalisations reduce, the amount of people admitted to intensive care will also decline.

"It's the people coming into hospital are the ones that we will eventually see, we generally admit about 10% of those patients to ICU," she said.

"That seems to be the case for the last few weeks, both as a result of reduced community transmission, which I would say is the main driver, and also the vaccination programme as it's being rolled out."

Vaccines

Meanwhile, the HSE is on target to deliver the first doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 1,300 GP practices this week.

The health service says the remaining 65 will receive them next week, allowing them to start the rollout on the over-85s.

The HSE has also promised to improve the timing of confirmation notices to GPs in relation to order numbers and delivery dates, saying 48 hours is not enough.

It comes as the Taoiseach acknowledged it will be "very challenging" for the country to meet its vaccination target for the end of March.

Micheál Martin previously said the aim was for 1.25 million doses to be administered by that point.

So far, less than 461,000 have been given out, with the target for last week missed by over 18,000.

Dr Motherway added that it's probably "too soon" for ICU clinicians to see an impact of the inoculation rollout, but the immunisation of elderly and vulnerable people will hopefully have an effect.

"For us to see an effect of this vaccination programme on community transmission is going to take quite some time because we're going to need to see large numbers of people vaccinated and the vaccine supply is still being rolled out, and slower than a lot of people would like, and slower than we would like," she added.

Number of COVID-19 patients in ICU drops to lowest level in eight weeks

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Main image: An ambulance outside the Mater Hospital in Dublin last month. Credit: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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