Holohan report notes high infection rate in older people

A large proportion of Covid-19 cases are being detected in older age groups and the burden on acute hospitals is “significant”, according to a report given to Government by State chief medical officer Tony Holohan.

The report was sent to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly today and he was told the number of infections recorded daily is high, but has recently reduced.

The Minister was informed that a significant proportion of detected infections continues to be identified in older age groups, but that there has been an overall reduction in PCR testing volumes and test positivity over recent days. Moreover, the report also noted that the daily total of positive antigen test results uploaded to the Health Service Executive portal has also reduced.

Mr Donnelly was also told the average daily number of newly confirmed cases in hospital has remained at about 200 over recent days.

The report also noted that the coronavirus burden on acute hospital care remains significant. The number in hospital with the virus has increased from approximately 600 at the beginning of March, to approximately 1,600 as of March 30th. However, it has fallen over recent days to 1,472 on April 1st.

In older age groups the proportion of hospitalised cases has increased in recent weeks. On March 29th, of those in hospital 74 per cent were aged 65 and older, the document indicates.

“You will be aware from colleagues in the Department [of Health] that the acute hospital system remains under considerable pressure with congestion at many sites, particularly at Emergency Departments which are sustaining high levels of attendance. In addition, Covid-19 continues to impact on acute capacity. There has been no significant change in the evidence in respect of Covid-19 paediatric hospitalisations in the context of Omicron,” noted the report.

Further booster doses?

The coronavirus update from Dr Holohan also stated that any evidence in relation to waning of immunity against severe disease will continue to be assessed. This will include a monitoring brief by the National Immunisation Advisory Committee as part of their ongoing review of evidence for further booster doses.

Furthermore, Mr Donnelly was told that the public needed clear guidance about the status of the pandemic and existing advice.

“It remains important to provide clear guidance and communication with the public on the evolving disease . . . individual and collective personal behaviours to mitigate against Covid-19 and other respiratory infections,” the document stated.

In total, some 45,878 confirmed PCR cases were reported in the seven days leading to this Thursday, a 6 per cent increase from the previous week. There were 52,349 positive antigen test results reported in the same period, which is a 30 per cent reduction from the previous week.

The peak of daily hospitalisations happened on March 27th with 213 admissions. Almost 41 per cent of hospitalised cases were aged 80 and over while 33 per cent were between 65 and 70.

The update also warned that there continues to be a significant number of cases of hospital acquired infection, with 429 hospital-acquired coronavirus infections in the week that ended March 20th. This compared to 313 the previous week.

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