From a warning that unvaccinated people are being disproportionately affected by serious illness from Covid-19, to plans for extending the vaccination programme to children aged 5-11, here are six things we learned from the latest Health Service Executive briefing on the coronavirus pandemic.
Unvaccinated people disproportionately represented in hospital figures
Paul Reid says over the last seven days, there have been 395 admissions of Covid-positive patients to hospital - a 29% rise on the previous week. He says 47% of people in ICU are fully vaccinated, 52% are not vaccinated at all, 1% partially vaccinated | https://t.co/QdEz4DL26k pic.twitter.com/bHVhyp43O1— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 25, 2021
HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid has said that hospitals and clinical teams are under extreme pressure from the levels of Covid-19 infection.
Mr Reid said that people who are not fully vaccinated are accounting for a disproportionate share of the people being treated in hospital, and particularly of those needing treatment in intensive care units.
49% of people in hospital with Covid-19 are fully vaccinated. 46% are not fully vaccinated, while the vaccination status of the other 5% is not known.
In ICU, 47% of current patients are fully vaccinated, 1% partially vaccinated, and 52% are unvaccinated.
89.55% of people over the age of 12 in Ireland are fully vaccinated.
HSE CEO Paul Reid has issued an "urgent call" to unvaccinated people to come forward for their Covid-19 vaccine jabs. He says there are now "many people coming in" for their first vaccines, "which is very encouraging" | https://t.co/QdEz4E2CXS pic.twitter.com/bzajd5GleY— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 25, 2021
People urged to isolate if symptomatic
HSE's Paul Reid says the key message around public health guidelines have to be restated. If a person is symptomatic, he says people should isolate until a test is taken. Mr Reid also says people should isolate for 48 hours after the symptoms have gone | https://t.co/QdEz4DL26k pic.twitter.com/TGTZVYKQ1k— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 25, 2021
Mr Reid reiterated that it is important that people who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 stay home and arrange a PCR test.
He added that if people test negative, they should still isolate until 48 hours after their symptoms clear.
HSE CEO Paul Reid says that following a serious escalation of Covid transmission levels in the community, there has been a strong response from the public over the last ten days. He says it will be needed for a "sustained period of time" | https://t.co/QdEz4DL26k pic.twitter.com/zL6RGM5QaQ— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 25, 2021
Mr Reid said people have been curtailing planned activities, and working from home in greater numbers, which is helping to slow the spread of Covid-19.
He said the health service appreciates the sacrifices people are making. However, he warned that transmission is still very high, and said this collective effort from the public to minimise transmission of Covid-19 will be needed for some time.
HSE scaling up testing capacity, but demand remains high
Paul Reid says that the testing and tracing system has been scaled up. He says that over the last week, 210,000 PCR lab tests were completed and resources have been redeployed "where possible" | https://t.co/QdEz4DL26k pic.twitter.com/DUiZJemB1w— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 25, 2021
Mr Reid said the community testing capacity had been 15,000 a day, but it has recently been increased to 20,000, and that up to 26,000 PCR tests have been completed on some days.
He said the HSE is availing of support from the Defence Forces and from private testing operators to increase testing capacity.
He said it is nevertheless difficult to meet demand, and it is "extremely challenging" to meet all the referrals.
He acknowledged that it is frustrating for people who have to wait for tests to become available.
Damien McCallion, HSE Vaccination Lead, says the HSE's testing and tracing system is "under some pressure" at the moment because of the demand for testing. He says there were almost one million tests performed in the last six or seven weeks | https://t.co/QdEz4DL26k pic.twitter.com/QQIxHmhcxY— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 25, 2021
Vaccines helping avoid 'devastating' scenario
HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry says the whole healthcare system is under "quite significant strain" at the moment. He says vaccines have protected us from what would have been a "much more devastating scenario" | https://t.co/QdEz4DL26k pic.twitter.com/chy57rtT2e— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 25, 2021
HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said the whole healthcare system is under strain at the moment.
He said close to 6,000 staff are out on Covid-related leave at the moment, placing additonal strain on an already exhausted workforce.
He said if the public had not embraced Covid-19 vaccinations the way they have the situation in hospitals could have been even worse.
Planning for vaccinations for 5-11 cohort
HSE's Paul Reid says he welcomes the EMA decision to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for children aged 5-11, and that they are now awaiting the NIAC recommendation. He says the delivery of the vaccines across Europe will be towards end December | https://t.co/Y7z3sQ91vQ pic.twitter.com/BX6Py8oET3— RTÉ News (@rtenews) November 25, 2021
Welcoming the decision by the European Medicines Agency to extend approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to children aged 5-11, Mr Reid said the recommendation will now be considered by Ireland's National Immunisation Advisory Committee.
Mr Reid said vaccine delivery for younger age groups around Europe isn't expected until towards the end of December.
He said that in the meantime the HSE will begin planning for vaccinations in this age group, assuming it is approved here.