Covid-19: 5,471 new cases reported with 579 patients in hospital

ICU admissions rate almost 30 times lower than last January, before mass vaccination

A further 5,471 new cases of Covid-19 have been reported in the Republic on Tuesday.

As of 8am that morning, there 579 people in hospital with the virus with 122 of those in intensive care.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said: “The ongoing efforts by parents and children to adhere to the public health advice during this pandemic has been fundamental to our work to drive down the incidence of Covid-19 in the community.”

Hospital Report

“Our priority continues to be to minimise risk and protect as many people as possible from severe illness,” he added.


“In a very short period of time, we have seen a significant and rapid deterioration in the epidemiological situation, in the as-yet-unvaccinated 5-11-year-olds. This has resulted in a sharp increase in incidence in this age group.”

Dr Holohan reiterated advice that members of the public should continue to reduce discretionary social contact over the next two weeks, with parents and children asked to cut back on gatherings such as playdates, sleepovers and nativities.

“These measures are not what any of us want to hear, particularly at this time of year. We know that it adds an additional burden at what has been a very difficult time for all of us, particularly those with young families,” Dr Holohan said.

The National Public Health Emergency Team's (Nphet) has recommended that children aged nine and over wear face masks in public settings and those in third class and above wear them in primary schools.

ICU admissions

Earlier, it was reported that the rate at which people with Covid-19 require admission to intensive care (ICU) is almost 30 times lower now than it was last January, before mass vaccination started.

The percentage of virus cases hospitalised has fallen from 3.17 per cent in January to 1.2 per cent in early November, National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) officials have been told.

The proportion of cases requiring ICU admission plummeted from 2 per cent to 0.07 per cent, according to minutes of Nphet’s meeting earlier this month.

“There is a significantly lower conversion rate from cases to hospitalisations to ICU admissions and those who do require hospitalisation or ICU care are largely unvaccinated and/or have underlying conditions,” the minutes recorded.

Mortality related to the virus is “relatively constant” at about five deaths per day, or 150 deaths per month.

Rates of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), which mostly affects young children, were 11 times higher this November compared with recent years, according to the minutes. The median number of cases was 483 a week earlier this month, compared with 43 over the past five seasons.

Data shows a “collision” taking place between increasing social contact leading to an increased force of infection, intersecting with waning vaccine immunity, with protection against infection waning faster and to a greater extent than protection against severe disease, the meeting heard.

“A differential is opening up between high cases and lower than expected admissions to hospital and ICU. Vaccination is having a considerable positive impact on the conversion of case numbers into admissions to hospital and ICU. Boosters appear to restore protection against symptomatic infection and reduce the risk of severe disease.”

‘Pandemic fatigue’

The Economic and Social Research Institute presented data to the meeting showing there was at the time “no evidence that the public has produced any kind of behavioural response” to the increased risk of infection linked to rising cases.

There was some evidence of increased worry but also “some form of pandemic fatigue”.

The benefits of giving vaccines to eligible children will need to be “articulated” to the large proportion of parents who are unsure, especially mothers, officials were told. The Government’s “Covid yellow” public health campaign needs to be “refreshed and reinvigorated”, the meeting also heard.

The case for people at higher risk of Covid wearing respirator masks will be the subject of new advice in the coming weeks.

The importance of good ventilation in mitigating aerosol transmission of the virus was emphasised. “However, it was cautioned that ventilation will have minimal impact on droplet/close contact transmission – and therefore cannot be a standalone measure.”

In relation to Hepa (high-efficiency particulate absorbing) filters, some members noted “there is not yet robust evidence to suggest they significantly impact on the overall transmission of disease”.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.