A senior health official has said that the Irish hospital system is currently able to cope with the surge in Covid-19 cases.
Chief clinical officer in the HSE, Dr Colm Henry, said that the recent rise in coronavirus cases was causing pressure on the health system.
However, he stressed that the situation would be significantly worse if Irish people did not have the protection provided by the Covid-19 vaccine.
“We’re seeing a surge in cases,” he said on Wednesday.
“That’s clearly causing its own strains and pressure because it’s happening at a time in winter when other viruses are circulating and we’re beginning to see our first cases of influenza, albeit in small numbers.” On Tuesday, a further 3,726 cases of the virus were notified, the highest number reported since mid-January.
The latest figures show that there are 493 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 90 are in intensive care.
The 14-day incidence now stands at 695 per 100,000, an increase of 18% on last week, according to the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet).
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said on Tuesday that he is not currently contemplating reintroducing restrictions to stem the spread of Covid-19.
Dr Henry told RTÉ radio on Wednesday:
“The harm that it is converting into is much lower than it was in January.
“Vaccines alone will not prevent the spread of infection and vaccines alone will not prevent serious illness if enough people become infected,” he warned.
While some hospitals have been forced to make cancellations amid growing pressures, Mr Henry said that that system is currently coping.
However, he warned that extra capacity was not “indefinite”.
Earlier this week, the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) recommended that booster jabs be rolled out to healthcare workers.
Dr Henry said that the booster programme for doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff will begin in the coming days and will take around six weeks.