THE TAOISEACH has appealed for continued caution around Covid-19 and has warned that Ireland has yet to reach the peak of the Delta wave.
It comes as hospitalisation numbers in Ireland reach highs that have not been seen since March.
The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has now passed 300.
In a tweet, HSE head Paul Reid said there was still a “very real” threat, with 314 people now in hospital, marking the highest total since the end of March.
Some 1,688 new cases of the virus were reported nationally yesterday, with latest figures showing that 1,890 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Cork in the 14 days to August 18.
In his tweet yesterday, Mr Reid said: “Vaccinations continue this weekend. Almost 6.6m [Covid-19 vaccines] now administered. 91% of adults partially vaccinated and 85% fully. 135,000 12-15s registered and 77,000 now administered.
“But the threat is still very real as 314 Covid-19 patients now hospitalised and 54 in ICU. Take good care.”
Chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Tony Holohan has also expressed concerns about increasing case numbers.
On Saturday, he described the upward trend in serious infection as of “significant concern”, with increasing pressures on frontline healthcare services and non-Covid care.
At 8pm on Saturday, there were 282 people with Covid-19 being treated in hospitals around the country, including eight patients at Cork University Hospital (CUH), with this figure rising to 314 yesterday.
HSE figures show there were no intensive care or high dependency unit beds available at either CUH or the Mercy University Hospital on Saturday.
Micheál Martin has warned that further increases in cases are expected in the coming weeks.
Speaking to reporters at the official homecoming event for the Rowing Ireland team in Cork on Saturday, Mr Martin said there would be a series of meetings this week that would lead to a new roadmap in relation to managing Covid-19 in the next number of months.
When asked about the rising cases of the virus, he said they were “concerned” about the Delta variant and the increase in numbers.
“At a meeting last week, the CMO articulated that concern, along with the Nphet [National Public Health Emergency Team] representatives and the CEO of the HSE, in terms of the impact on hospitalisations and ICUs,” he said.
He described vaccination as “key”.
“We are continuing to vaccinate. The younger age cohorts are still not enjoying the full protection of that vaccination programme, having received first doses later than the older age cohorts.
“So we did anticipate this increase; we anticipate an increase over the next number of weeks.
“We have not reached the peak of the Delta wave yet and, of course, any time the disease is increasing at this rate is a time for concern.”
Mr Martin appealed to the public to continue adhering to public health guidelines.
“I would appeal to people to watch the fundamentals in terms of social distancing, wearing masks — indoors in particular — and adhering to the basic guidelines.”
When preparing for the next phase of the roadmap, he stated that they will be taking advice from the CMO as well as Nphet, which will meet on Wednesday.
The Covid Cabinet committee is due to meet on Friday. The Cabinet will then meet on August 31, when it will decide on the next phase of reopening and the timelines involved for each sector.
Mr Martin said that they would be particularly looking at the sectors that were not yet reopened.
When asked about the re-opening of the arts and entertainment sector, he said that the next stage of managing Covid-19 would involve the sector.
“We will be examining all of that next week and we will be giving timelines to people,” he said.
“I know that the sector wants to open, but again, we have to take on board public health advice in any decisions we take,” Mr Martin said.