The protection offered by COVID vaccines is “holding tight” despite surging case numbers, according to the Chief Clinical Officer.
Last night, 3,726 new cases were announced – the 11th highest daily figure the country has faced since the pandemic began and the highest in over nine months.
Yesterday morning there were 493 coronavirus patients in hospital and 90 in intensive care – down 20 and seven respectively on the same day last week.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, HSE CCO Dr Colm Henry said the case figures are “certainly worrying” but noted that the hospital figures offer cause for hope.
“What is holding tight is the protection the vaccine programme is giving to the most vulnerable groups,” he said.
“So, even though our hospitals are under sustained pressure we haven’t seen a corresponding rise in hospitalisations or in people being admitted to ICU with COVID.
“Bear in mind, whatever pressures we have from COVID in the hospital system at the moment come at a time when there are multiple circulating seasonal viruses and the hospitals are delivering the full range of services and trying to catch up with all the services that may have fallen behind over the past six to 12 months.”
This morning, Newstalk revealed that 10% of people in eight different counties are still not fully vaccinated.
Monaghan and Donegal have the lowest vaccine rates in the country while Waterford and Carlow have the highest.
Dr Henry urged anyone who has yet to get the jab to come forward.
“I would still predominantly give a message of hope,” he said. “Vaccines are affording great protection against serious illness, hospitalisation and intensive care admissions.
“So, if you haven’t got the vaccine, get vaccinated. If you are eligible for a booster dose, please accept that appointment.”
He said the single most effective way to stop transmission is to self-isolate if you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms.
“If you are sick or symptomatic, self-isolate, stay at home and arrange for a test if needs be,” he said.
The HSE CCO said the hospital system is currently delivering the “whole range of services” to patients – but admitted that some services are being curtailed at a local level.
HE said he would be concerned about the system’s ability to continue offering the full range of services if cases remain high.
“Looking at the hospital system, it is delivering the whole range of services and I would certainly be concerned about sustaining this level – particularly with ICU admissions, 100 of our 300 beds are occupied by patients with COVID,” he said.
“At previous times when we saw surges in COVID cases, they were times when we had cancelled so many other activities so certainly those levels, if sustained, make for a difficult winter.”