Ireland’s health system under pressure amid surging COVID-19 cases: officials

The Irish Department of Health on Thursday reported an additional 23,817 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the highest daily figure ever recorded since the pandemic began.

There were 941 COVID-19 patients being treated in hospitals, of whom 90 were in intensive care units (ICU), said the department in a statement.

Officials from the Health Service Executive (HSE), a state agency responsible for public health service, said at a weekly briefing that the surging cases have put huge pressure on the local health system.

Paul Reid, chief executive of HSE, said that an estimated 8,500 healthcare workers working in the public health sector in the country were currently out of work either because they have been infected with COVID-19 or because they were close contacts of confirmed cases.

HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor said that hospitals across the country were coming under pressure due to rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations as well as the shortage of healthcare workers and hospital beds.

HSE chief clinical officer Colm Henry said that the five-day moving average of COVID-19 cases in the country was over 19,000, more than doubled the rate recorded last year.

He also said that 51 percent of COVID-19 patients admitted to ICU were unvaccinated people and approximately five percent of people in Ireland were not vaccinated against COVID-19.

There were over 900,000 people in Ireland who have been infected with COVID-19 to date, accounting for about 18 percent of the country’s total population, and nearly 6,000 people in Ireland have died from the virus, according to official data. ■