Signs virus surge may be slowing but death toll still high

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The death toll from Covid-19 this month is already nearly twice the number of fatalities in December – but there are now signs the virus surge may be beginning to gradually slow down.

There have been 338 deaths from the virus this month with eight people succumbing to virus yesterday – the youngest of whom was 49 and the oldest was 93.

However, for the second day in a row the daily number of cases has fallen, down from 2,944 on Sunday to 2,121.

The numbers in hospital which had been at 2,032 fell to 1,975 by the afternoon yesterday, although there were 102 admissions in the previous 24 hours.

Hospitals are under intense pressure with 200 seriously ill patients in intensive care relying heavily on adapted surge beds to look after the sickest with the virus.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said we need to pare our movements down to the minimum so “we can drive this infection down faster than we have been driving it down so far”.

Asked about the reopening of schools for special needs pupils, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there are no “zero risk” environments and risks had to balanced. The closure of schools should be a “last resort”,
he said.

He said: “There are people working in shops all across the country and that’s not a zero risk environment.” Anyone leaving their house has to do their own risk assessment on infection, he added.

Dr Holohan said they recognised the importance placed on vulnerable children in lockdown. The aim is to make essential activities as safe as possible, he said.

Dr Veda Hamilton, HSE clinical advisor on acute hospitals, said this is the second week that hospitals are in surge and there are 312 patients in critical care. She said the situation is “very pressurised but functioning”.

She agreed that hospitals remain high risk environments for infection.

Asked about the risk of more infectious forms of the virus and the chances of travellers bringing it into the country amid reports that people are arriving here without evidence of a Covid-19 test and not subject to quarantine, Dr Holohan said there is little point trying to stop the UK variant becoming the dominant strain.

He said measures cannot keep these viruses out of the country but they can slow their progress and allow the opportunity to get as many people as possible vaccinated.

There is no evidence of onward transmission of the South African variant and the Brazilian variant has not been identified here.

Meanwhile, Dr Lorraine Nolan of the Health Products Regulatory Authority said it has received 81 reports of suspected reactions to the Covid-19 vaccine so far and they were all within the expected range and transient.

She said internationally there have been reports of anaphylaxis, a serious allergic reaction, associated with the vaccine but it is very rare.

The incidence with the vaccine is around one in 100,000 and as more people get the vaccine it is expected there will be suspected cases reported here also.

Referring to the 23 deaths of very frail elderly people with severe illness in Norway after getting the vaccine, Dr Nolan said there is no evidence to show they were caused by the vaccine.

Irish Independent

Source: Irish News