Failure to comply with Covid-19 rules frustrating efforts to control outbreak, warns Holohan

Failures to fully comply with coronavirus rules is frustrating efforts to bring down infection rates in Ireland, the chief medical officer has warned.

Dr Tony Holohan said reductions in infections are not happening fast enough with the virus having taken hold in every part of Ireland and he said levels of infection are still “far too high”.

Another 60 Covid-19 deaths were confirmed on Saturday, along with 3,231 new cases as post Christmas surge in new cases continues. The dramatic rise in cases has placed huge pressure on the public hospital system which is now deploying “surge capacity”, which includes utilising beds in private hospitals.

An estimated 6,500 HSE staff are currently out sick with Covid-19 and last night training of student nurses and midwives was suspended for an initial two weeks so that more than 100 experienced nursing staff involved in training could return to the wards.

On Sunday morning the number of patients with a confirmed case of Covid-19 in hospital rose to 1,872 while those in intensive care units hit a new high of 186. Some 111 patients with the virus are on a ventilator. The number of patients in hospital with a suspected case of Covid-19 fell to 136.

In a statement last night Dr Holohan said too many people were still not fully adhering to regulations and guidelines.

Wicklow mountains

On Saturday gardaí – for the second weekend in a row – encountered large numbers of people in the Wicklow mountains, many of whom had travelled outside the 5km limit.

Ten people were issues with fines for breaching this regulation gardaí said.

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Dr Holohan said the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected in the UK was making it more difficult to suppress the disease.

“This virus has taken root in every single part of the country,” said Dr Holohan.

“A significant percentage of the population – in excess of one in 10 in some counties – is currently either a case or a close contact. This is a huge burden of infection.

“When you consider that a significant percentage of our daily cases will directly lead to hospitalisation and mortality, the urgency with which we need to act becomes clear.

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