Severe toll on elderly as flu death tally hits 75
Flu has claimed the lives of 75 people so far this season and has taken a severe toll on the elderly.
Although overall flu levels have now fallen, the strain of virus circulating in recent months has hit the over-65s hard, peaking in December and January.
Overcrowded hospitals were under particular strain and 39 flu patients had to be admitted to critical-care beds.
Health Minister Simon Harris said he intended to "maintain a tight focus" on the trolley crisis and had been meeting with the HSE on a weekly basis.
However, figures this week show little respite for emergency departments.
There were 381 patients waiting for a bed across the country yesterday, with hospitals in Limerick, Kilkenny and Beaumont in Dublin under pressure.
The impact of flu this winter comes as a new report warns of the serious threat posed to health in Ireland and other countries from antibiotic resistance in the treatment of bacterial infections, including superbugs.
Bacteria found in humans, animals and food continue to show resistance to widely used antibiotics, the report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said. Infections caused by bacteria that are resistant to antibiotics lead to about 25,000 deaths in the EU every year.
"Antimicrobial resistance is an alarming threat putting human and animal health in danger," Vytenis Andriukaitis, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said.
"We have put substantial efforts in to stop its rise, but this is not enough. We must be quicker, stronger and act on several fronts.
"This is why the commission will launch a new action plan this summer that will give a new framework for future co-ordinated actions."
The report shows that in general multi-drug resistance in salmonella bacteria is high across the EU.
Salmonella is the second most commonly reported food-borne disease in the EU.
The report also highlights that antibiotic resistance levels in Europe continue to vary by geographical region.
Resistance to carbapenem antibiotics - these are drugs of last resort which should be used sparingly - has been detected for the first time as part of EU-wide annual monitoring in animals and food.
Carbapenems are usually the last remaining treatment option for patients infected with multidrug resistant bacteria to other available antibiotics.