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Covid 19

Holohan warns against relaxing restrictions as ICU numbers give cause for concern

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The Chief Medical Officer has warned against relaxing restrictions, as any change could put Ireland’s intensive care facilities in difficulty.

A further 43 people have died, bringing the total of Covid-19 related deaths in Ireland to 1,232.

There is a total of 20,612 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland. Cork has fallen into third place with 1,146 cases, behind Dublin, 9,967, after months in second place for the highest number of cases, being replaced by Kildare with 1,193 cases.

2,706 cases (13%) have been hospitalised, of those hospitalised, 360 cases have been admitted to ICU, 106 people are still currently receiving intensive care treatment.

Dr Tony Holohan says that the numbers in ICU give him particular cause for concern as he prepares to brief the government tomorrow on whether restrictions could be lifted.

“We’re getting closer to that point, we’re meeting again tomorrow morning to decide, to make our assessment available to government,” he said.

“The advice now is that we shouldn’t lift restrictions.

“We’ve seen improvement in ICU numbers, but it’s still above 100 and that’s a substantial proportion of our ICU capacity, we have to take that by way of example.

“If we look at all of the measures that we think is important, notwithstanding the progress we’ve made, the case has not been made yet to believe that now is the time to lift restrictions, so my belief hasn’t changed.

“We have seen improvement but we need to get down to a lower baseline, the number of new cases in the general population is the same as we saw back in March when we first started implementing these measures.

“The numbers in ICU now are big numbers, we’d like to see that dropping, and if we were not to take that into account, and if further spread were to occur, we would get into difficulty sooner than we would if we had lower numbers.

“We have over 100 people in ICU, that’s 40-50% of the standing capacity we had in ICU before this began, and it’s a sizable number still.

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, added: “To understand the importance of our next steps we should look back to the pattern of the epidemic at the beginning of March. Within 10 days we went from 50 people in ICU to 140 people in ICU.

“Currently, there are 106 patients in ICU. If a similar surge occurred on top of our current ICU figure, we would find it very difficult to manage the treatment of patients. This reflects the sensitivity required in relaxing restrictions.

“The data strongly shows the power of people by understanding social distancing to drive the disease out, so I can’t give an insight into when, but I can give an insight into how.

“The more successful we are reducing the virus in the general population, the more successful we will be driving it out of hospitals and residential care settings.

“People need to be very cautious about how they go about their daily business in the future, we have to find a new intermediate way of living, and this is the challenge of laying out any kind of roadmap.”

The latest report of Covid-19 in healthcare workers reveals that over a third, (34%) of cases relate to nurses, healthcare assistants amount to 24% and cases among doctors is at 7%.

From The Irish Examiner.