Revealed: The counties with the highest rates of Covid-19-related deaths as hospitals fear the impact of a new variant

Mayo, Louth, Monaghan, Cavan, Carlow and Dublin have all had their highest rates of Covid-19-related deaths since the pandemic began nearly three years ago.

Mayo has the highest death rate at 261.3 per 100,000, followed by Louth at 242.1, according to a new report.

It comes as 2021 has emerged as the worst year for Covid-related deaths, with 5,252 patients dying from the virus that year.

The number of deaths last year – which could rise based on subsequent reports – fell to 2,203, lower than in the first year of the pandemic, when the virus was linked to 2,294 deaths.

Protection from vaccinations and booster shots, previous infections and the less virulent Omicron variant are said to have contributed to the lower mortality rate over the past year.

Other counties with higher death rates include Kildare, Limerick, Donegal, Roscommon and Wexford.

The lowest rate was in Sligo at 96.1 per 100,000 and there were low rates in Galway, Tipperary, Kerry and Cork, the Health Protection Surveillance Center (HPSC) reported.

The majority of deaths occurred in nursing homes, with over 1,000 deaths in hospitals.

It comes as the detected cases of the new variant XBB1.5, nicknamed Kraken, have increased fivefold to 26 in the last few weeks, underscoring its ability to spread rapidly.

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Breda Smyth said yesterday the variant would continue to be monitored here, despite signs the recent Covid spike is beginning to ease.

Meanwhile, 438 patients were waiting for a hospital bed yesterday morning, up from 497 on Thursday as emergency measures to control overcrowding remain in place.

Many hospital and community workers – including social workers – will be working overtime again this weekend to try to speed up discharges and reduce deadlock that can arise over weekends because fewer patients are leaving hospitals.​

Emergency rooms are struggling with large numbers of visitors, mainly patients with flu, Covid and other respiratory diseases.

dr Smyth expressed concern that fewer older people are coming to the emergency room because of concerns about a long ordeal in a cart or chair.

She said those who stay away may not get the medical care they need.

Doctors have urged people who are very unwell not to delay hospital treatment and to call an ambulance if necessary.

The European Center for Disease Control said yesterday it expects the new Covid variant to become dominant in Europe in a month or two, and while it poses a low risk to the general population, it could pose a moderate to high risk of developing represent vulnerable individuals such as the elderly. There is a moderate chance that this will result in a significant increase in cases and while this may not result in a significant number of people in Ireland needing to be hospitalized for complications from the virus, it will at a time when where this is the case, will lead to a greater disruption in services. It is hoped that the severe outbreak will subside.

The flu is still the main virus right now, and Dr. Smyth said 3,049 cases were diagnosed last week, the highest in a decade, with 693 hospital admissions.

So far this winter, 24 flu-related deaths have been reported.

While efforts are focused on keeping car numbers under control, patients on waiting lists continue to have their surgeries suspended to free up beds.

New waitlist figures yesterday showed 81,568 patients needing surgery, 584,626 are in the queue for an outpatient appointment and 24,029 needing an area. Revealed: The counties with the highest rates of Covid-19-related deaths as hospitals fear the impact of a new variant

Fry Electronics Team

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