Healthcare staff and hospital patients made up over 10pc of Covid-19 cases in the last two weeks, according to Professor Philip Nolan.
Speaking this evening, the chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group said the numbers of cases in healthcare settings are the highest they have been at any point in the pandemic.
He said that this is due to high levels of community transmission.
“We’re seeing higher level of infections in staff acquired in healthcare settings than we did at any point in the pandemic and higher levels of infection acquired amongst patients than we did at any point in the pandemic.
“We are seeing over 5pc of cases in the last 14 days are healthcare setting-acquired amongst patients and over 5pc are healthcare setting-acquired amongst staff.
“That relates to the very high level of disease in the community and the high level of virus entering those healthcare settings.”
Prof Nolan said increases in cases among healthcare staff and patients are seen after “every significant surge”.
“As we do after every significant surge in the community, we see a subsequent increase in disease in healthcare settings, and see infections acquired in healthcare settings,” he explained.
“We would also be concerned that the new variant is contributing to those transmissions,” he added.
Dr Dermot Nolan, a GP based in Co Waterford, said he saw a patient in recent days experiencing heart failure refusing to present herself to hospital due to fears of contracting the virus there.
“The hospital service is still working, there are separate pathways and Covid-free areas in the hospital.
“Patients delaying seeking medical attention put their lives much more at risk than Covid, so that’s very important, that people do seek the medical attention they need in the acute hospital service,” he said.
Under plans being discussed by the Cabinet Committee on Covid-19, passengers will have to pay for their own stay in quarantine hotels if they arrive without negative a PCR test.
Last week, in a letter to Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said that under the current regime for those travelling into the country, up to 40pc of cases may be missed.
Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that, depending on a person’s incubation period, the PCR test may or may not show up as positive.
“The value of a PCR test in someone who is coming from a country or an area where we don't know what the underlying disease prevalence is, and that person is essentially taking a screening test.
“So depending on when they were infected, when they were exposed and where they are in their incubation period, they may or may not show up as a positive case in the PCR,” he explained.
“That’s not a commentary on the PCR as a test, that’s a commentary on the reality that just because you bump into someone yesterday, who transmitted Covid to you, does not mean that you'll test positive today on a PCR test.”
A further seven coronavirus related deaths and 1,372 new cases were confirmed by the Department of Health today.
This brings the total number of cases in the country to 188,923 and the total number of coronavirus related deaths to 2,977.
All of these deaths occurred in January. The median age of those who died is 77 years and the age range is 43-94 years.