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Intensive care cases 'will remain high for weeks'



Prof Philip Nolan said the rates of infection will fall slowly

Prof Philip Nolan said the rates of infection will fall slowly

Prof Philip Nolan said the rates of infection will fall slowly

The number of Covid-19 patients treated in intensive care units will remain very high for weeks to come, although admissions to hospital have now peaked, it has emerged.

People were warned that although the number of new daily cases is falling rapidly the country is in for the long haul as far as restrictions are concerned due to the huge amount of infection still circulating.

Professor Philip Nolan of the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) said the number of patients with the virus in hospital will fall very slowly in the coming weeks.

He added there is concern about a high incidence of the virus among the over-75s.

Over three weeks up to 1,000 residents a week in long-term residential care have been catching the virus along with 500 staff in these facilities.

He was speaking as seven more deaths and 1,372 newly cases were reported.

The number of patients in intensive care rose by one to 219 and there is one-third more now in ICU treatment compared to the first wave.

There are 1,905 Covid-19 patients in hospital, down from around 2,000.

But daily admissions have fallen from as many as 140 to 74 yesterday.

Virus-related deaths have reached 688 this month, with an average of 52 deaths a day.


There was a death toll of 175 in December and 164 in November.

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there was no evidence to link the higher deaths to preliminary data by UK scientists who believe the new, more infectious UK variant is more deadly.

Prof Nolan said: "We are seeing higher levels of infection acquired among health staff and among patients than at any point in the pandemic."

He cited the UK variant for contributing to the spread.

"We are seeing over 5pc of infection acquired among patients and 5pc among staff in healthcare settings," he added.

"That relates to the high level of virus entering those settings from the community."

Dr Glynn said there is still no evidence that the more infectious Brazilian strain of the virus is here.

Asked about funerals he said that in recent months there were a number of incidents where they led to significant large outbreaks.

On schools he said at this point it was not the time to instigate the mobility of one million people.

Commenting on whether people should take vitamin D supplements to increase their defences, he said it was important for people who are at home cocooning to maintain their levels of this vitamin.