Irish health officials believe South African Covid-19 variant has been contained

Health officials believe the South African variant of Covid-19 found in Ireland has been contained. The country continues to grapple wit...

Health officials believe the South African variant of Covid-19 found in Ireland has been contained.

The country continues to grapple with its third and most severe wave of the virus – which saw over 8,000 new infections reported on Friday.

Dr Tony Holohan confirmed the first cases of the more infectious variant had been identified here, and were associated with people who had travelled to Ireland over the Christmas holidays.

Ireland this week also reported an increasing presence of the variant first found in England.

It was detected in 25% of positive cases that underwent further testing in the week to January 3, up from just 9% two weeks earlier.

“The UK variant is of more concern to us purely because of the amount of virus that’s on the island, and we know that it’s transmitting in the community,” Cillian De Gascun, the head of Ireland’s national virus laboratory, told RTE.

“The good thing about the South African variant is we know exactly where those cases came from, they have been contained, controlled and contact traced, and to the best of my knowledge there was no onward transmission.”

06/01/2021 South William Street during the Covid 19 Coronavirus pandemic in Dublins City Centre, Dublin.

The government announced its strictest lockdown measures since early last year on Wednesday, warning that a “tsunami” of infections fuelled by the UK variant and the relaxation of curbs ahead of Christmas could overwhelm the healthcare system.

The number of patients in Irish hospitals with Covid-19 rose by 12% in the space of 24 hours on Saturday to 1,285, having in recent days exceeded the peak of 881 set during the first wave of infections.

Fourteen more patients were admitted to intensive care units (ICU).

That brought the total number receiving critical care to 119 and left just 27 of the 284 ICU beds in the country’s public hospitals empty.

Those hospitals can increase ICU capacity safely to 375, the head of Ireland Health Service Executive (HSE) said this week.

The HSE has also reached an agreement to take over private hospital ICU beds for Covid-19 admissions.

HSE Covid-19 Media Briefing. Pictured is HSE CEO Paul Reid at the media briefing in Dr Steevens Hospital for the weekly HSE operational update on the response to Covid-19.

The number of people in hospital with Covid-19 has reached more than 1,200, the latest Department of Health figures show.

A record 1,285 patients are in hospital with the virus, up 134 on Friday.

The figure is now four times higher than a fortnight ago when 321 people were in hospital with the virus on December 27.

Some 119 people with coronavirus are being treated in intensive care units (ICU), up from 107 on Friday evening.

There have been 14 admissions to ICUs in the past 24 hours.

It comes as a record daily total of 8,248 confirmed coronavirus cases were recorded in Ireland on Friday, along with 20 further deaths – the highest figure since May.

Hospital staff are bracing themselves for a surge in coronavirus patients as the number of cases escalate.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said the priority must be protecting more people from getting sick as the numbers of people being taken to hospital with the virus will continue to rise.

He tweeted: “There’s now 1,285 people being treated in hospital (+ 134 on yesterday) with Covid19 & 107 in ICU.

“For now, it will rise more. Saving lives & protecting more people getting sick is our priority. But, in time, the huge sacrifices everyone is making will work. Thank you.”

Ireland’s coronavirus reproduction number is now between 2.4 and 3, the highest level seen throughout the pandemic.

Friday saw three cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 discovered in Ireland.

There are fears that the mutated form of coronavirus could be resistant to vaccines, although public health chiefs here say there is not enough information to determine that.

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Newsrust: Irish health officials believe South African Covid-19 variant has been contained
Irish health officials believe South African Covid-19 variant has been contained
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