Health Minister warns Omicron could lead to spike in hospitalisations

Mr Donnelly said: “We've got to do now is assess the situation in the context of this new variation. Unfortunately, we have a new variant. It's much more transmissible. And so we have to, you know, we have to respond to that."
Health Minister warns Omicron could lead to spike in hospitalisations

Digital Desk Staff

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said hospitalisations due to the Omicron variant could match or even exceed the spike seen last January.

As the Irish Examiner reports, speaking at Government Buildings he announced changes to the vaccine booster campaign, Mr Donnelly made clear the high number of cases in the UK poses a big risk to this country.

“In terms of the number of cases, yes, it could well be it could be more in terms of the number of hospitalizations [compared to January of this year]. Yes, that that is entirely possible,” Mr Donnelly said.

Responding to the potential of new added restrictions, Mr Donnelly said: “We've got to do now is assess the situation in the context of this new variation. Unfortunately, we have a new variant. It's much more transmissible. And so we have to, you know, we have to respond to that."

He said that based on what we're seeing in the UK, it's reasonable to assume that we are looking at a very high case numbers in the coming weeks.

“And then with regard to tomorrow, I know people will be watching closely in terms of public health advice, but it wouldn't be helpful for me to speculate. Now we need to let the public health team do their thing. And then government will consider the advice,” he said.

When asked about the range of possible cases given by Nphet, Mr Donnelly said the range was “very wide” but he did not have the numbers to hand.

Mr Donnelly said that Omicron is so much more transmissible, and though it's a smaller, individual risk as long as people are vaccinated, because so many people are likely to become infected with it, it still has a serious implication for hospital numbers.

“We got some very serious emerging evidence on a Friday evening, which we're all aware of.

"We've been learning more and more as we've been going so Omicron at this point, that constitutes a very significant risk for the country. We've seen the UK has just reported its highest Covid cases ever.

"So what we're doing now is further accelerating the programme,” he said.

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