The state public health team has not recommended the government to impose any additional COVID-19 restrictions.
The National Public Health Emergency Team met on Thursday to review the epidemiological situation in the state and consider whether any additional measures are needed amid the record of COVID-19 cases conducted by Omicron Edition.
Two sources said the team has recommended continuing with the existing measures, potentially until the end of the month.
The sources also stated that the separation period for close contacts cannot be changed until after the peak of the ohmron wave.
A daily record of 23,817 new cases of Kovid-19 were confirmed in the state on Thursday.
The new cases were reported by the health department, which said that there are now 941 Kovid-19 patients in state hospitals, of which 90 are in ICU.
Impact on HSE
According to HSE Chief Executive Officer Paul Reid, at least 8,500 healthcare workers are currently off work due to COVID-19 infection or close contact.
This is equivalent to one in eight workers in healthcare, and includes 3,000 nurses and midwives and 1,500 workers working in patient care.
But he warned that the actual number could be double this manual count due to the spurt in infections over the past week.
Mr Reid was speaking during the HSE media briefing on Thursday.
HSE chief operating officer Anne O’Connor told the briefing that healthcare sites are forecasting an employee absenteeism rate of around 12 percent — the equivalent of 14,000-15,000 employees. He said absenteeism rates varied from site to site, with some recording rates as high as 20 percent. In the National Ambulance Service, 260 people are currently unavailable for work.
Mr Reid described the current stage of the pandemic as “very uncertain in terms of the impact of Omicron”.
HSE is on high alert and “we are seeing really constant tension across the system”, he said.
There are “early strong indications” that the level of illness with the Omicron variant may not be as severe as with the delta variant, and the impact so far on the ICU has been less severe, he said.
However, the health system is under immense pressure and the impact on staff was “very hard”.
At 941, the number of Covid-19 patients in the hospital is 65 per cent from last week and 140 per cent in two weeks. Mr. Reid said the average hospital stay of Covid-19 patients remains the same.
According to Mr Reid, the number of virus patients in critical care has generally remained stable.
Ms O’Connor said many hospitals were facing “crowding”, particularly model-three facilities such as Letterkenny, Portlaois, Mullinger and Kilkenny.
Officials said last week there were four new ones in hospitals and five in long-term care facilities.
HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry told the briefing that one-fourth of all COVID-19 cases have been reported in the last 12 months from Christmas Day.
About 6,500 children aged five to 11 years have been vaccinated so far, and 70,000 have been registered for immunization amid the expansion of the immunization program for this age group. Mr Reid said all 10,000 children with underlying conditions would get a vaccine appointment by Friday.
Dr Henry said there is no doubt that Covid cases are being detected, and for every case there could be “one or two” more cases that are being taken up.
Mr Reid acknowledged the pace of the vaccination and boosting program has slowed since Christmas.
More than 100,000 immunocompromised people will be called in for a fourth shot in January, he said.
The IT staff at HSE is developing a facility that will allow people to enter positive antigen test results online and a solution is expected to be ready by the end of next week, he said.
Dr Ross Morgan, a respiratory consultant at Beaumont Hospital, said doctors have seen many families with COVID-19 in the ICU, including people in their 30s and 40s, and parents.
The indications on Omicron are somewhat better than previous variants of the virus, but “unfortunately the Covid pneumonia is similar to what was seen last year,” he said.