The first tentative signs that the current Covid-19 wave may be coming under control have emerged as the percentage of people who have tested positive for the virus after an HSE PCR test continues to fall.
The positivity rate has been a key metric during the pandemic to signal the virus’ spread is slowing, but restrictions on free HSE PCR tests since last month have made it less reliable.
But signs over the past few days are increasingly optimistic, with the percentage of people testing positive by a PCR test falling to 36.44 percent yesterday.
On Monday, the positivity rate was 43.11 percent, down from last Friday when it was 44.87 percent.
The seven-day positivity rate fell to 41.7 percent yesterday, compared to 45.5 percent last Friday.
The trend could possibly indicate that while the virus is still circulating at high levels, this wave could be slowing down.
The number of patients hospitalized with Covid-19 rose to 1,610 yesterday, up from five since Tuesday. Of those, however, 49 were in intensive care, a fall of one in one day.
The number of combined positive PCR and home antigen tests reached 12,508 yesterday, up from 14,549 on Tuesday.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said he expects the current wave of infections to peak in the next two weeks. However, hospitals remain under extreme pressure.
Additionally, cancer patients in a hard-hit part of the country are competing for beds and access to diagnostics as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to squeeze hospitals. That’s what a leading specialist says.
Professor Michael Kerin, a cancer specialist in Galway, said the current surge is making an already inadequate system there worse.
The West and Northwest already have the highest national cancer incidence and lowest survival rates for breast and lung cancer due to a lack of modern facilities, he said.
Prof. Kerin called for the rapid establishment of a new cancer center to serve the region, as promised in the national development plan.
Even when Covid-19 has abated, the region will struggle to provide any specific standard of cancer care.
A planning team should be in place by the summer of this year for the planned new center with diagnostics and an attached laboratory.
“The five-year survival rate for breast cancer in the Region is 80 percent, compared to the national average of 86 percent,” he said.
Prof Kerin added that figures for lung and colorectal cancer also compare poorly to the national average.
Infrastructure in the west is substandard and not fit for purpose, despite providing 20 percent of the country’s cancer care, said Prof Kerin, director of the Saolta Hospital Group’s cancer network.
It comes as the number of Covid outbreaks reported nationwide over the past week has risen to 201. That’s the highest number this year, although some have been carried over from the previous week, including St. Patrick’s Day.
There have been 36 hospitalized outbreaks of Covid-19, up from 15 the previous week.
There have been 60 outbreaks in care homes, with the largest infecting 61 people.
The biggest increase was in residential facilities last week, where there were 76 outbreaks, up from 43 the previous week
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organization (INMO) is today calling for a review of public health measures, particularly in relation to face masks.
It points out that around 58 percent of all deaths from Covid-19 have been linked to outbreaks, with over 90 percent of them in healthcare facilities. Hospitals are currently unsafe for patients and there is a need for coherent public health advice.
INMO President Karen McGowan said the caregivers felt they were being “tossed to the wolves”.
Not only are they dealing with record overcrowding, but they will also see their highest ever absenteeism from staff due to Covid-19, she added.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said it was likely the severity of Covid disease would lessen over time, but warned a more dangerous variant could also be lurking.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/hopes-rise-as-the-rate-of-covid-infections-falls-in-a-week-41505472.html Hopes rise as rate of Covid infections falls in a week