Sixteen pregnant women were admitted to intensive care with Covid-19 since the start of the year, health officials have said.
The chief medical officer, speaking at a briefing from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), indicated it is too early to commit to any specific easing of restrictions, ahead of the Government publishing a road map next week.
Current high rates of Covid-19 in Ireland saw Dr Tony Holohan warn that anyone unvaccinated should consider avoiding large-scale events, such as upcoming GAA matches in Croke Park.
On Tuesday, Dr Holohan said that Ireland’s success at achieving a high rate of vaccination was not a basis for “optimism” at the moment, given the high rates of Covid-19 across the country.
Earlier, health minister Stephen Donnelly suggested that all parts of the economy could be open by the end of the year.
Speaking in Dublin on Tuesday, Mr Donnelly said the current plan is to continue with the next phase of reopening and the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.
Dr Holohan said that he hoped restrictions could be eased before that, but he said that Ireland needed a higher rate of vaccination before the country could reach that point.
He said: “It’s simply not right for us to be expressing such optimism on the basis of how well we’ve done on vaccination.”
The chief medical officer said that it will be several weeks before enough of the younger population are vaccinated to look ahead to the return of “unsafe” activities.
“We need to get to a threshold in terms of vaccination, and disease control would be better than it is at the moment,” Dr Holohan said.
“We’re still concerned that we need to get all the way down the road.”
Asked about the number of pregnant women admitted to hospital with Covid-19 this year, Dr Michael Power, the HSE Clinical Lead for Intensive Care, confirmed that between the start of the year and August, 16 pregnant women have been admitted to intensive care.
None had been admitted in 2020.
Most of the women admitted to intensive care were unvaccinated, Dr Power said.
Ten were put on a ventilator, with some of the pregnant women giving birth in intensive care.
Dr Power said that no deaths were recorded among the women admitted to intensive care and all babies born survived.
Earlier this week in Londonderry, a new mother who died after contracting Covid-19 before she got to hold her daughter was laid to rest.
She had not been vaccinated before she died, and her husband urged all those not vaccinated to come forward for the jab.
Health officials on Tuesday said that Ireland will reach the peak of the current wave of Covid-19 at some point in September.
Professor Philip Nolan, who chairs the Nphet Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said: “We will approach the peak of this wave in September, but there is an uncertain trajectory between now and then.”
He said that health officials were predicting a “slow decline” from that peak.
“We have had a persistently high level of disease since July,” he said.
Ireland is currently on track to reach between 2,000 and 2,500 cases a day by September. Prof Nolan warned that an increase in socialising could lead to a significantly higher number of cases in the weeks to come.
In recent weeks, Covid-19 cases have been largely among young people.
“It is at the moment predominantly the disease of young, unvaccinated adults,” Prof Nolan said.
A further 1,571 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Ireland on Tuesday.
There were 307 Covid-positive patients in hospital, of whom 55 were in intensive care units.
The risks of a vaccinated person, transmitting the disease, and it being picked up by another vaccinated person, are smallDr Tony Holohan
Asked about attendance at GAA games in the coming weeks, Dr Holohan said: “We would like to see those events confined to those who are vaccinated.”
“If you’re not vaccinated, don’t be going to events of this scale.”
There are “multiple opportunities” to pick up the virus at large-scale events if someone is unvaccinated, he said.
He indicated that he would not have any public health concerns if a music festival, such as Electric Picnic, was to take place with only vaccinated people in attendance.
“The risks of a vaccinated person, transmitting the disease, and it being picked up by another vaccinated person, are small,” he said.
The chief medical officer also said that he expects booster jabs for immuno-compromised individuals to begin “soon”.
“The capacity in terms of both available vaccine, and available individuals to deliver the vaccine, exists,” he said.
Dr Holohan said that he expects the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) to make recommendations in the coming weeks on who else should receive a booster jab.