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Devastating third wave of Covid-19 began before lockdown lifted for Christmas – new report reveals

Report from Health Protection Surveillance highlights devastation caused by the most recent wave

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(Stock image)

(Stock image)

(Stock image)

The devastating third wave of Covid-19 began as early as November 22 before the country opened up in early December for Christmas, it has been revealed in a new report.

The report from the Health Protection Surveillance highlights the devastation caused by the most recent wave.

It means that as pubs and shops re-opened and families gathered for festive celebrations, the virus was already silently on the march to wreak havoc.

The recent wave triggered two thirds of the total cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic and accounted for half Covid-19 deaths so far.

More men than women died of Covid-19 in the most recent wave of the virus. This is despite more women catching the virus during the third wave.

It said that as of February 21 there were 215,743 confirmed Covid cases notified in Ireland.

The recent wave triggered two thirds of the total cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic and accounted for half Covid-19 deaths so far.

It said that as of February 21, there were 215,743 confirmed Covid cases notified in Ireland.

The third pandemic wave accounts for 145,403 of these cases, which is over two-thirds of the total number of cases occurring during the pandemic.

The peak number of cases notified during this wave, based on notification date , was on January 7 2021, when 8,242 confirmed COVID-19 cases were notified.

Since the start of the pandemic up to midnight February 21, 2021, there were 4,137 COVID-19 associated deaths in confirmed, probable and possible cases.

The third pandemic wave accounts for half of these or 2,081, of all Covid-19 associated deaths to date.

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It said there is a time lag in the peak week of deaths’ notifications compared to case notifications.

The peak number of cases notified (45,625) occurred in the first week of 2021.

The peak week of notification of the deaths (384) occurred in the week ending January 30 last.

However, due to deaths being notified often at a later date, the number of deaths may still increase and the peak can therefore still shift.

During the third wave, there was a greater number of confirmed Covid-19 cases reported among women than men.

However, the opposite is seen for the Covid-19 associated deaths, where there was a larger number reported in men compared to women.

In total, 7,402 people were hospitalised during the third wave – 5.1pc of all cases. And of those, 632 were admitted to intensive care, 8.5pc of notified hospitalised cases.

The age group with the highest number of reported hospitalisations was the 75-84 year age group with 1,671 cases, accounting for 22.5pc of all hospitalisations. The median age of those hospitalised was 68 years.

The highest number of reported admissions to intensive care was in the 55-64 year age group, closely followed by the 65-74 year age group. Both age groups accounted for just over 28pc each of the ICU admissions, with 179 and 178 cases respectively.

The median age of the COVID-19 patients admitted to intensive care was 63 years, which was slightly younger than the hospitalised case.

The report said the third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic started on November 22 and is still ongoing.

The majority of cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic have occurred in this current wave.

Case numbers and deaths are slowly decreasing; however, they are not yet at the level seen prior to the third wave.

Continued restrictions, contact tracing and management of cases will be necessary to reduce case numbers further. New COVID-19 variants of concern bring additional challenges and complexity to controlling the virus.

But the ongoing vaccination campaign brings hope that we will be able to make significant strides in the control of Covid-19 in 2021.

Meanwhile, a summary of intensive care unit (ICU) admissions from the beginning of the pandemic up to January 31 last showed 1,129 adults who were seriously ill needed this level of care,

The number of adult admissions to ICU peaked at the end of March 2020, increased slightly in October 2020 and peaked again in January 2021.

Of the 1,129 adult admissions to ICU during this time, 752 (67pc) were male and 377 (33pc) were female, giving a male to female ratio of 2:1.

The median age of adults admitted to ICU was 63, ranging in age from 15 to 90. The mean age was 61 years. Seventy one percent of those admitted to ICU were aged 55 years and older.

Of the 1,129 adults admitted to ICU with COVID-19 up to January 2021, 89pc - 1,006 - had one or more underlying medical conditions. The four most commonly reported underlying medical conditions among adults admitted to ICU were: chronic heart disease (47pc); Hypertension (44pc); Chronic respiratory disease (33pc); and Diabetes (31pc).

Of the 1,129 adult admissions to ICU, 698 (62pc) were discharged alive and 337 (30pc) died – a further 94 of those admitted up to January 31 in ICU as of February 23 last.

Of those discharged from ICU, 75pc had primary viral pneumonia, 68pc had acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and 28pc had secondary bacterial pneumonia during their time in ICU.

The Health Protection Surveillance Centre said that in the last year, there have been two distinct peaks in ICU admissions of adults with confirmed COVID-19, in March/April 2020 and in January 2021, the second peak being notably higher than the first.

Overall, twice as many men as women with confirmed COVID-19 have been admitted to ICU since the beginning of the pandemic.

The breakdown by sex is very similar among those who were discharged alive compared to those who died but the median age of those who were discharged alive was considerably lower than of those who died. Continued surveillance of ICU admissions will provide vital information for planning and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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