A key Covid warning has been issued by the former chair of Oireachta’s all-party select committee on the virus and its deadly effects.
The lack of urgency in tackling hospital overcrowding across the country is laying a fall-winter bombshell, TD Michael McNamara said, adding, “Covid-19 hasn’t gone away.”
Mr. McNamara gathered a wealth of clinical testimony and expert opinion before his committee closed ahead of the first vaccination program.
“We had a particularly bad flu in Australia recently and that’s usually a precursor to what’s coming here,” he said.
“Unless urgent action is taken in the budget, I fear a meltdown in our emergency rooms next winter.
“While there were high hopes last year that the vaccination campaign could solve the Covid-19 problem, it is now becoming apparent that – as with the flu – a vaccination campaign alone will not solve the problem and we urgently need to increase the capacities in our hospitals have to. ”
Mr McNamara said the vaccination program had been a tipping point but immunity had waned over six months, many people hadn’t gotten their booster and new variants of the virus had emerged, leading to a summer wave.
There is also the question of a possible reduced capacity, as the government decided separately in its last cabinet meeting before the summer break to no longer offer free Covid tests to large population groups.
“I fear disorganization when so many senior staff from HSE and the Department of Health have left or are on their way out,” Mr McNamara said.
“We’ve been told we’ll have a large budget surplus this year, but economists warn that generosity won’t last.
“We therefore need to spend a significant portion of this money on long-needed capital investments in our hospitals to avoid overcrowding and collapse next winter and future winters.”
There is a lack of urgency to address hospital overcrowding across the country, Mr McNamara said, citing University Hospital Limerick as “usually the worst” but others – like Tallaght – have been unable to cope with the demand and have had to go ” off call”.
“The whole situation is very worrying,” he said. “Covid-19 has not gone away and will never go away.
“The government has spent far too much money trying in vain to eradicate it — and comparatively little on the long-term actions needed to address it.”
Antipodes influenza would reach Ireland, as seen in patterns of seasonal effects around the world over many years, Mr McNamara added.
“Experts blame the aftermath of lockdowns and lower immunity in the general population,” he said.
“In 2020 and 2021 there were bouts of fear that our hospitals would be overrun due to Covid-19.
“Now it seems to be greeted with a shrug in government buildings.”
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/health/virus-expert-issues-major-covid-warning-i-fear-a-meltdown-in-the-winter-41890885.html Virus expert issues major Covid warning: “I fear a meltdown in winter”