| 13°C Belfast

Spike in hospital admissions from Delta Covid wave ‘would be extreme concern’

HSE boss Paul Reid said there are just 40 intensive care beds available out of 300.


(Brian Lawless/PA)

(Brian Lawless/PA)

(Brian Lawless/PA)

A spike in hospital admissions sparked by the Delta variant of Covid-19 would be an “extreme concern” for the health service, HSE boss Paul Reid has said.

Mr Reid said there are just 40 intensive care beds available out of 300, and 300 beds across the wider health system.

The Delta variant is set to become the dominant strain in Europe by August, with concerns emerging over a rise in cases and hospital admissions.

We are extremely busy and that would be an extreme concern for us, if it was to turn into hospitalisations at a significant levelPaul Reid

Mr Reid said Irish hospital numbers have returned to levels not seen since before the start of the pandemic in 2019, and any increase could mean a return to cancelling elective procedures and non-Covid care.

He said: “The reality of it is our hospitals are extremely busy right now and understandably so.

“We are very conscious (of the need) to get back to non-Covid care and elective care, as the economy’s opened up.

“We have a lot more attendances and admissions from our emergency department.

Daily Headlines & Evening Telegraph Newsletter

Receive today's headlines directly to your inbox every morning and evening, with our free daily newsletter.

This field is required

“Our hospitals are extremely busy. In fact, our emergency department attendances are now, and have been for the last few weeks, above the equivalent period in 2019, pre-Covid.

“So we are extremely busy and that would be an extreme concern for us, if it was to turn into hospitalisations at a significant level.”


Paul Reid (Brian Lawless/PA)

Paul Reid (Brian Lawless/PA)


Paul Reid (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Reid said 260 of the country’s 300 intensive care beds are occupied at present

Speaking on Newstalk, he added: “We probably have around 300 beds vacant of a total 11,000 beds across the system, right now today. In terms of preparation for Delta it is a concern for us.

“That’s the reality of the waves. Every wave that we’ve experienced, we come out of each wave, start to catch up and get back elective care.

“But certainly when it comes to surges and impact on hospitalisations, that really impacts on elective care and non-Covid care.”

Minister Simon Coveney has said antigen testing could form part of the system to allow vaccinated people to use indoor hospitality.

The Government is to bring forward proposals by July 19 following a recommendation by the chief medical officer.

Mr Coveney told RTE: “It may do, it’s too early to say.

Certainly we'll have a decision by the 19th and we'd like to action that decision as soon as possibleSimon Coveney

“There are, I think, six EU countries at the moment that allow indoor dining to take place on the basis of people showing that either they’re vaccinated, they’ve recovered from Covid, or that they’ve tested negative, using an antigen test.

“We are looking at those countries and how they operate that and the success of it.

“Of course, we’re speaking to the industry as well, to make sure that whatever we decide to do next, we’re doing in consultation with them to make sure that it works.

“We have to bear in mind all the time the public health advice that we get from our public health experts, who have served us very well throughout this pandemic.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to reopen indoor activity in an appropriate way that’s safe.

“Certainly we’ll have a decision by the 19th and we’d like to action that decision as soon as possible.”

Sunday brought an additional 562 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, the highest daily total since May, the Department of Health said.

There were 48 people in hospitals with the virus, with 14 in intensive care.

Daily case numbers may change due to future data review, validation and update, owing to the cyber attack on the HSE.

Top Videos