Flu season kicks in as three more people hospitalised
Three more patients have been hospitalised with flu - but it is the common cold which has laid most people low so far this winter.
Flu levels remain low, although various strains are circulating, including the form of the virus which caused a major outbreak in Australia during its last winter.
Cases of this strain, known as A (H3N2) and 'swine flu', have been confirmed in Ireland in recent months.
One of the patients hospitalised was infected with A (H3N2) and the other two had influenza B.
However, there is evidence of the growing spread of the rhinovirus, the most common cause of the human cold, according to the latest report from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
Cold viruses can be passed from person to person by hand contact, or by touching contaminated surfaces such as door handles.
Meanwhile, several hospitals endured another day of the trolley crisis with 38 patients waiting for a bed for more than nine hours yesterday evening.
University Hospital Galway had 37 patients on trolleys yesterday morning and 31 were waiting for a bed at Cork University Hospital.
University Hospital Limerick had 29 patients on trolleys needing a bed as it fought an outbreak of the winter vomiting bug.
A spokeswoman said all infection control measures were in place and every effort was being made to manage and contain the spread of the virus.
Patients were being isolated as appropriate and a number of beds had been closed to admissions in accordance with best practice.
However, this had impacted on the availability of beds, leading to a backlog of patients on trolleys in the emergency department.
A ward which had been closed temporarily to enable a deep clean to take place re-opened yesterday morning.
The overcrowding in a number of hospitals has led to planning surgeries having to be cancelled.
This is set to impact on hospital waiting lists and cause further delays. The beds need to be freed up for patients on trolleys.