There were no intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in Cork hospitals yesterday, with almost 70 patients with Covid-19 being cared for at hospitals in the city, accounting for around 7% of all Covid hospitalisations across the country.
The figures, contained in the HSE’s Covid-19 Daily Operations Update, show there has been a rise in Covid-19 hospitalisations in Cork in recent weeks.
On January 1, a total of 50 Covid hospitalisations were recorded in Cork hospitals.
On January 10, this figure was almost 70, with 43 Covid-positive patients in CUH, and a further 25 Covid-positive patients in the Mercy University Hospital.
Yesterday, HSE chief executive Paul Reid warned that there is a “continual strain” on the health system, in part due to rising hospital cases, but also as a result of significant staff absences due to Covid-19.
More than 1,000 people with the virus were in hospital on Monday.
Mr Reid said that it was good news that the proportion of people entering hospital was “significantly down on what it would be in previous waves”.
However, he said that despite indications that Omicron causes a less severe illness, “there is no-one in hospital with a mild illness”.
“One good, positive thing —we’re not seeing the same level of patients needing advanced respiratory supports,” Mr Reid told RTÉ radio.
The HSE boss said that around 14,000 to 15,000 staff are absent due to Covid-19. He said that the “pace” of the absences had been a challenge for the HSE.
Last night, a further 23,909 positive cases of Covid-19 were reported, bringing the number of cases reported since the beginning of the pandemic to over 1m.
Chief medical officer Tony Holohan appealed to people to take action to reduce the spread of the virus.
“We continue to report a very high level of incidence of Covid-19 in the community,” said Mr Holohan. “It is essential for everyone to protect themselves and others from infection. Every small action to limit the spread of this disease is vital, as we continue to experience a large volume of patients in hospital, up a third on this time last week.
“Remember that behind each hospital statistic and ICU figure is an individual, with family and friends, and a team of healthcare workers providing care to them in very difficult circumstances.
“The best way we can continue to support our health service and protect each other is to continue to follow the public health advice as best we can — staying home and isolating if we have symptoms, avoiding crowds and poorly ventilated spaces, opening windows, wearing face masks, and working from home where possible.”