It is expected that Covid-19 case numbers will rise in the coming weeks as the country reopens, according an infectious diseases consultant.
Dr Eoghan De Barra said the real test of the country’s reopening will be if increased case numbers translate to increased hospitalisations.
With nine further deaths and 379 new cases of the disease confirmed yesterday, the five-day moving average of new cases is 422 — down around 10 per cent on last week.
“I would suspect they’re going to stay around that mark and in fact, likely will see a slight uptick in them as we get increased mixing,” Dr De Barra told Newstalk radio.
“The key thing now is whether it leads to an increase in hospitalisation, because we obviously have a protected population with the extremes of age, but we obviously have a large population that remains at risk, and there’s a considerable amount of Covid circulating within the community still.”
The consultant said many Covid-19 hospitalisations were now “shorter and of lesser severity”.
As of last night, there were 106 people with the virus being treated in hospital — the lowest level since late September — and 34 in intensive care units.
Dr De Barra said he believed the improved figures were “in large part down to vaccination.”
“Many of the hospitalisations are shorter and of lesser severity, but again, there are still people being admitted on a daily basis to hospital with Covid, but happily not as many of them requiring intensive care and happily not as many of them having those really very serious outcomes,” he said.
The challenge for us now will be... to keep the numbers at that level
The chief medical officer has said that high vaccination levels and low case numbers are vital as the country attempts to exit the pandemic.
Professor Emer Shelley, from the Royal College of Physicians, also told Newstalk radio that case numbers are likely to increase in the coming weeks.
“There are definitely encouraging signs in the data from the last week. The challenge for us now will be, as we open up to shopping and moving around the counties, to keep the numbers at that level,” she said.