Most Covid-19 hospital admissions are in people over 65 and the virus is here for the medium to long term, acting chief medical officer Prof Breda Smyth said today.
Prof Smyth, who is taking over on an interim basis this summer following last week’s retirement of Dr Tony Holohan, said around three-quarters of Covid hospital admissions are in people over 65.
She was speaking as the number of patients with Covid-19 stood at 849 today, a drop since yesterday with around 125 patients with the virus admitted daily.
Uptake of a second booster shot among the over 65s has been slow, although it has recently improved by around 10pc amid the surge in cases.
Prof Smyth said vaccines continue to provide strong protection from severe disease and the numbers in intensive case due to complications of the virus are stable .
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said that of around 27 patients with Covid-19 in intensive care last week, around nine where there directly due to the virus.
However, Prof Smyth said official figures for positive cases in the community after PCR or home antigen tests do not reflect the true level of infection, which is significantly higher.
Anyone with symptoms should self-isolate until 48 hours after they have gone, or for seven days if they have tested positive.
Both the minister and Prof Smyth ruled out introducing restrictions to combat the current wave.
Prof Smyth said: “Covid is here for the medium to long term and we have to learn to adapt to it.”
The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) is still examining how an autumn roll-out of booster shots will work and who will be eligible.
The minister, who was launching the annual report of the National Women and Infants Health Programme (NWIHP), repeated that he hoped there would be financial support for in vitro fertilisation (IVF) introduced, but could not say if it will be included in the September Budget.
Mr Donnelly said: “Women have more choice when it comes to maternity care in 2021, with 24pc of pregnant women booked on the Supported Care Pathway. More women could also access more services closer to home, with additional community midwifery services and Early Transfer Home services becoming available.
"We also saw brand new services coming online, with additional ambulatory gynaecology clinics, as well as the establishment of specialised endometrial and menopause clinics in Tallaght and the National Maternity Hospital.
“2021 was a challenging year for the HSE, with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the cyber-attack on HSE systems, but this report shows that the programme continued to make significant progress in 2021."
The report noted lactation consultants are now in place in all 19 maternity services, with 7.5 whole-time equivalent of these posts were funded through the NWIHP in 2021, while all 19 maternity services are now providing midwifery-led care.
The report said most women who seek menopause support can be effectively supported by their GP. However, some symptomatic women will require specialist medical expertise, which will be dealt with in the specialist menopause clinics being developed around the country. The first specialised menopause clinic was opened in December 2021 in the National Maternity Hospital.