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January's Covid-19 death toll hits 485 after a further 61 fall victim to virus

 

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Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

Dr Tony Holohan

January is among the darkest months yet for Covid-19 deaths, with the fatality toll rising to 485 as the virus claimed the lives of 61 more people yesterday.

The youngest person reported to have died from Covid-19 yesterday was 45, while the oldest was 100.

Hospitals are increasingly relying on surge intensive care beds to care for the sickest patients, although there are hopes admissions will slow down before they reach the limit.

The number of Covid-19 hospitalised patients fell slightly to 1,923 yesterday, while new patients admitted in the previous 24 hours went down to 85 from an average of around 120.

However, there are 210 seriously ill patients in intensive care - including a significant number in younger age groups.

Although there are increasing signs the lockdown is working, the daily number of new cases rose to 2,488 yesterday, up from 2,001 on Tuesday.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: "The number of cases and deaths that we are reporting today and the persisting high incidence rate of Covid-19 across the country shows that we cannot underestimate the highly infectious nature of this disease and the impact that it can have on families and communities.

"The virus spreads through close contacts, through the congregation of people.

"We need everyone to stay at home as much as possible, and to work from home, where possible.

Caring

"You should not meet up with friends or loved ones, unless you are caring for them.

"If you go out for exercise, you need to stay within 5km from your home, wear a face covering where appropriate and wash your hands when you return home to protect yourself from infection."

Meanwhile, an independent review has been ordered by the Coombe maternity hospital in Dublin into how the relatives of a number of staff were given the Covid-19 vaccine.

The hospital said its board had met to discuss the issue, which arose late in the evening of Friday, January 8, in relation to the vaccine roll-out.

"Given the serious nature of the matter the board has made the decision to commence an independent review. It expects this review will be completed within a number of weeks," a spokesperson said.

"The board has also taken the decision to task a senior clinician from within the hospital to lead and take full responsibility for the next stage of its vaccination roll-out until it is completed."

Earlier this week it emerged 16 family members of staff were given the vaccine after vaccinators could not find other health workers to receive leftover jabs.

The hospital said that on Friday January 8, at around 9pm, 16 vaccine doses were available and if they were not used then they would have had to have been discarded.

"At that time, the HSE booking system and portal was not live as it came online the following morning and so it was not possible to pre-book vaccinations and therefore be certain of the number of vaccinations required. The HSE booking system and portal is now live.

"That evening there were 16 vaccine doses that had been made up remaining, and to ensure that vaccines were not wasted they were administered to family members of employees of the hospital.

"Of the 16 recipients, nine were over 70 and the remaining seven were of varying age."

Session

It has also emerged that two relatives of staff in the Rotunda Hospital were given leftover vaccine.

New guidelines in place since last week state that a vaccination session must have a reserve list of staff who could be offered leftover vaccines.

A spokesman for Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said last night he had spoken to the chair of the hospital board and "noted their intention to carry out a full review".

He said Mr Donnelly welcomes the decision to have a senior clinician leading the next roll-out.


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