Covid hospital admissions on the rise but it’s unclear if new wave is on way

Hospital admissions of patients with Covid-19 have risen slightly over the last week, but it is unclear if this signal the start of another wave.

here were 255 patients admitted with the virus in the first week of September and this rose to 313 in the seven days to yesterday, although the increase was mostly seen in Beaumont Hospital in Dublin and University Hospital Galway.

The number of patients with the virus in hospital nationally stood at 290 yesterday, up from 240 earlier this month.

Hospital admissions are being watched for any signs of a rise in virus spread because PCR testing is limited and notifications of positive results from home are unreliable.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said yesterday a “twindemic” of both Covid and flu this winter is not inevitable, but urged eligible people to avail of booster vaccines.

The first set of Omicron Covid-19 vaccines will be rolled out from early next month, but Dr Henry said he has availed of his second booster with the effective existing jab, which protects against the Wuhan strain.

The seven-day positivity rates for people eligible for PCR tests is stable at around 10.8pc.

Dr Henry said while Australia, which has its winter during our summer, had a very high level of flu circulating, the surge was not seen in hospital admissions.

Two-thirds of countries are yet to meet the target of vaccinating 70pc of their people against Covid.

Figures from Oxfam and The People’s Vaccine Alliance shows Ireland placed 28th in a worldwide league, with 81pc of our population vaccinated.

“This is clearly good for Ireland, but we’ve left other countries behind. As the United Nations General Assembly meets, we must remind ourselves that when it comes to Covid, no one is safe until everyone is safe,” Oxfam Ireland’s Jim Clarken said.

“One year on from pledges by world leaders to vaccinate everyone, we are looking at a massive failure to do so.

“At every turn, over the past year, the interests of big pharma have won out over people’s health.”

Around 70pc of the over-65s in Ireland have now had their second Covid booster shot after a slow start.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) – which is urging health authorities in different countries to be agile and able to respond to any winter surge – said the number of new weekly cases globally remained stable during the week of September 12 to 18.

This was when compared with the previous week, with more than 3.2 million new cases reported.

The number of new weekly deaths decreased by 17pc compared with the previous week, with more than 9,800 fatalities reported worldwide.

As of September 18, more than 609 million confirmed cases and more than 6.5 million deaths had been reported globally since the pandemic began.

Following comments by US President Joe Biden that the “pandemic is over”, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove of the WHO told a press conference yesterday that “we are still at risk of new variants”.

“We don’t know whether they will be more transmissible. We expect they will have more immune escape which will render some of our counter-measures not as effective as they are right now,” she said.

“We don’t know if they will be more or less severe.

“Covid-19 is not the only crisis the world is dealing with at the moment.”

She said WHO’s role is to end the pandemic emergency everywhere, but a collective response is needed from the whole of society.

Separately, the number of cases of cases of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) virus here, which mostly affects young children, is higher than this time last year.

Cases of monkeypox are slowing, with 177 people diagnosed here since May.

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