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Covid surge ‘largely driven’ by new sub-variants – Dr Colm Henry urges symptomatic to self-isolate

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Dr Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

Dr Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

Dr Colm Henry. Photo: Colin Keegan

There is a current “slower upward surge” in Covid-19 cases across the country, according to the chief clinical officer with the HSE.

Dr Colm Henry said the latest surge is “largely driven” by sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5, which he said have a “growth advantage” over the previous variants meaning they’re more transmissible.

As of 8am this morning, 812 patients are hospitalised with the virus, of whom 33 are in ICU.

“If you’re not vaccinated you’ve no protection against either infection or serious illness, this variant tends to reside to in the upper respiratory tract, people notice a different type of illness,” he said.

“There are over 300 people in hospital today with Covid who are not vaccinated, they’re totally disproportionately represented. In hospital altogether, 812 now it’s rising, if you look back to the end of May it went to a low of 167 in that last week of May.

“Of the 812, just over half are actually sick with Covid, so it’s important to put some perspective on this and even when you look at the ICU numbers, which haven’t risen sharply, they have been oscillating between 33 and 24 over the past few days so they have risen but not sharply.”

Dr Henry said just over half of patients who are currently hospitalised with the virus have not had their first booster vaccine. He said Covid-19 is a “highly disruptive” virus within a hospital setting.

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He said there are currently 305 ICU beds in the healthcare system and the HSE hopes to reach 321 by the end of the year.

"We’re looking at about 600 healthcare workers testing positive with Covid, the week ending June 22, there’s a week lag in that, community about 200. Again, nothing like the figures we saw in March but nevertheless, we’re seeing a rise,” he told The Pat Kenny Show on Newstalk.

“We have put together a Long Covid plan, we worked with experts last year, we’ve appointed some infectious disease consultants with a particular interest in this and we have a model of care put through not just for staff but for people throughout the country.

Dr Henry said the “single most important” message for people is to isolate if they’re symptomatic.

He said 96pc of the adult population have received their primary vaccination course and 76pc have availed of their first booster.

“I’d love to say it was a seasonal virus, this is not a seasonal virus in the way we understand seasonal viruses because right now record level of ED presentations contributed certainly by Covid-19, but this is a virus we see in all seasons,” he said.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland


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