10 Aug 2022

STARK WARNING: 'Enormous' Covid-19 third wave is going to 'put people in funeral homes'

coronavirus covid-19

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer at the Department of Health in Ireland

The enormous wave of Covid-19 level infections is going to have a significant impact on mortality and lead to more people ending up in funeral homes due to the coronavirus, the Chief Medical Officer has warned.

Dr Tony Holohan has issued a stark warning about what is going to happen during January due to a wave of infections over Christmas.

Figures published by the National Public Health Emergency Team there are now 776 people in Ireland by 2pm on January 4 with 70 in ICU. They warn that this is going to have an enormous impact on the hospital system.

There are now on average 22,000 tests per day being carried out. The positivity rate has risen from 3% to 20% during December. There daily average of new cases is 5,000 per day. 

The incidence is high among all age groups but is the highest incidence is among those aged 19 to 25 where there is a rate of 900 per 100,000. The rate is 400 per 100 k for the 25-65 age group. The incidence among the 13-18 year group is 200 per 100k. The over 65 incidence is 300k. It is lowest but still high at up to 150 k among the under 13 age group.

Professor Philip Nolan, Chair of the NPHET Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group, said a radical reduction is needed. He said that the incidence of the disease is now 'certainly higher' than March. He warned of the impact.

"Scenario models raise the possibility of 1,500-2,000 people in hospital, and 200-400 people in ICU by mid-January, if we do not act to radically reduce transmission and incidence. It will take all of us, adopting the public health measures of staying home and reducing contacts, to suppress current levels of disease,” he said.

Dr Tony Holohan, Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, called for a single national effort to mitigate the impact but he warned that the enormity of the wave means there will be more deaths. He said the aim now is to reduce the impact.

"The level of infection puts too many people in funeral homes," he warned at the NPHET press briefing. 

In his written daily statement, Dr Holohan called for a community effort.

“Leaders and organisations in communities across the country now need to support their colleagues, neighbours, family and friends to keep to the spirit of public health advice. We must restrict our movements, we have to limit the people we interact with outside of our households if we are to suppress the virus and sustain our essential services,” he said.

Dr. Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health, urged people with vulnerable conditions to stay at home.

“People particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 include older persons and people with pre-existing medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and cancer. The incidence of disease in the community is now at a level where vulnerable people need to stay at home unless absolutely essential.”

Mr. Liam Woods, HSE National Director, Acute Operations, said hospital services have to be cut back.

“We are introducing curtailments in non-essential services in adult hospitals in order to cope with increasing COVID-19 admissions. This will be subject to ongoing review. In the event of emergency attend an Emergency Department as usual and if you have any concerns regarding your health, COVID or non-COVID related, always contact your GP in the first instance,” he said.


Professor Karina Butler, Chair of the National Immunisation Advisory Committee, said wanted vaccination will be speeded up.

“The vaccination programme has commenced for the first priority groups. The roll out has been accelerated this week. As we continue to provide vaccines across the population we urge anyone with concerns or questions to contact their GP, pharmacist or healthcare service provider for factual and reliable information. The website also provides reliable information around vaccine efficacy and safety,” he said.

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