People should wear masks on public transport and in congregated settings as the number of Covid cases have risen significantly in recent weeks, the HSE's chief clinical officer has urged.
Dr Colm Henry told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that Covid infections were up 75 per cent and hospital admissions up 90 per cent in December. Influenza cases were up 75 per cent in one week and hospitalisations up 35 per cent, while RSV cases were at a five-year high.
There is "end-to-end" pressure on the healthcare system, not just in emergency departments, Dr Henry said as he confirmed the HSE will start using private hospitals as a back-up resource.
Dr Henry also appealed to people to get vaccinated and boosted against Covid and flu, and if they have a cough or cold to stay at home.
He said Covid vaccination rates had been very good at earlier stages of the pandemic, but since then uptake of booster vaccines had dropped.
When asked about the number of deaths from Strep A, Dr Henry said there had been four cases, all of which were a tragedy for the families involved, but such cases were “exceptionally rare.”
There were enough antibiotics in the country for common bacterial illnesses, he said when asked about reported shortages.