Some people have been infected with Covid-19 “twice since Christmas”, hospitalizations have increased by 75 percent

The public are being advised to take additional measures to protect themselves from Covid-19 as case numbers rise and hospitals come under increasing pressure.

HSE head Paul Reid said some people who contracted the virus earlier in the year have recently been reinfected.

Mr Reid said he understood that “everyone wants to get on with their lives” but that heightened awareness was needed.

“We see people who had Covid even in January who have Covid again. This is not an unusual occurrence at this time. So yes, we are seeing people who have tested positive for the second time,” he told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne programme.

However, Mr Reid said the HSE is urging increased awareness “without increased fear”.

“If we’re in crowds, if we’re on public transport, the advice is to still wear a mask and for everyone to do that personal risk assessment,” he said.

“Especially for the elderly or vulnerable or those with compromised immune systems who continue to wear a mask. Continue to be aware of being in crowds to do that risk assessment.”

He said there are a significant number of people who contracted the virus over Christmas who are eligible and “should” come in for a booster vaccine.

“There are about 700,000 people in this category and also people who didn’t get their elementary school [dose]. The only benefit we can see this time around is the benefits of the vaccination program as we are dealing with an increased impact and that applies to all age groups,” he said.

It comes as fewer than 20 percent of children aged five to 12 have received both doses of the vaccine.

Mr Reid said the low uptake was disappointing, but he admitted it was harder to convince people to get vaccinated or get their children vaccinated when “society has moved on”.

But he said the HSE will continue to encourage all eligible people to get their vaccines and booster shots where necessary.

There are 1,308 people hospitalized with Covid-19 this morning, including 49 in intensive care.

“Fortunately, the numbers in intensive care are still low,” Mr Reid said.

“In the last 14 days there has been a significant increase in hospital admissions of about 75 percent, so we are still dealing with a very highly communicable virus.”

Mr Reid said there had also been “record numbers” of people presenting to hospitals and emergency rooms for non-Covid treatment in the past three weeks.

He also confirmed that of the over 1,300 Covid patients hospitalized today, about 50 per cent of them were infected with the virus after admission.

He said thankfully the numbers haven’t resulted in severe pressure in intensive care units like previous strains, but staff are becoming overwhelmed and bed count is also an issue.

Mr Reid said staff absences had increased over the past two weeks, with 4,200 people “with Covid from the HSE” out of work as of last Friday.

He said around 900 nursing home workers were currently unemployed.

“I think across the industry we are all starting to see more staff absenteeism from Covid. So it depends on what’s being transmitted in the community and luckily not that severely, but from a hospital perspective it’s affecting us.”

Mr Reid also confirmed that some hospitals have recently had to cancel elective treatments, but the HSE has no plans at this time to issue a national policy suspending non-essential elective treatments.

He added that the HSE is increasing its use of the private hospital system, with 1,900 beds being used for elective care last week.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the launch of the vaccination program and the rate of coronavirus cases in Ireland

https://www.independent.ie/world-news/coronavirus/some-people-infected-with-covid-19-twice-since-christmas-hospitalisations-up-75pc-41470458.html Some people have been infected with Covid-19 “twice since Christmas”, hospitalizations have increased by 75 percent

Fry Electronics Team

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