The Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE has said he is “very concerned” about the rise in the number of people in hospital, with or because of Covid-19.
It comes as 606 confirmed cases of Covid-19 were reported in the country’s hospitals this morning.
As of 8am there were 153 more people in hospital with Covid today than there were last Monday.
There were 453 people with confirmed cases in hospital on Monday, 13 June.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Dr Colm Henry said the rise is largely driven by sub-types of the Omicron variant.
“This sub-type enjoys what is called a growth advantage over previous sub-types and is now displacing it as the dominant variant here. It’s about 100% of cases in Portugal and now over 70% here.”
Dr Henry said that although it is much more transmissible, it does not seem to be more virulent or aggressive.
“While hospitalisations are going up, we are seeing ICU numbers steady which is of some assurance,” he said.
“Those who previously had immunity from previous variants, be they Delta or otherwise, can get infected again but they are much less likely to get seriously ill.”
Dr Henry said there has been an increase in outbreaks in nursing home settings and residential care facilities but “nothing like we saw when we peaked in March following the surge of Omicron cases with earlier sub-variants but nevertheless, we have seen a rise at our operational clinical meeting this morning”.
There has also been a rise in cases among health care workers.
Dr Henry said they are hearing that “they are not particularly sick but because they test positive, it does have that impact on services”.
There has also been a rise in hospital acquired infections, Dr Henry said.
“This is where people seem to acquire Covid within a healthcare setting and that has gone up from 61 a couple of weeks ago to about 187. Now again, nothing like the levels we saw back in March this year or late last year but nevertheless a troubling trend,” he said.
On vaccinations and hospital cases, Dr Henry said: “The harsh reality is that if you look at hospitalisations, 606 this morning, unfortunately over half have not received their booster and over a third haven’t even got vaccinated in the first place.”
He said it is not too late to get vaccinated and “people who are unvaccinated in the first place have no protection from serious illness, no protection from being hospitalised and going to ICU or worse. It’s not too late for those people to get vaccinated”.