Rise in number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care after face masks ditched

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The number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care has risen to 51, up from 47 more than two weeks ago when the mandatory wearing of face masks was in force.

he trend is being closely monitored and comes as the number of patients with Covid-19 in hospital remains high at 813.

There were 11,380 new cases of Covid-19 reported yesterday, including 4,423 positive PCR tests.

It comes as the number of Covid-19 vaccinations fell to its lowest level last week to 20,558 as pandemic worries ebb – down from 523,076 before Christmas.

Meanwhile, the HSE is expected to encourage unvaccinated Ukrainian refugees here to avail of free Covid jabs.

The European infectious disease watchdog told member countries that many of those fleeing are not fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

It said that since the escalation of aggression towards Ukraine, as of March 7 more than 1.7 million people had fled to Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Romania and Slovakia

The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) said countries hosting displaced populations should ensure that those arriving from Ukraine due to the crisis have access to healthcare services in a similar manner as the local population.

“This will address continuity of care and prevention of complications due to medical preconditions and will aid early treatment of acute conditions.

“Additionally, it will help in the early detection of diseases that may cause outbreaks.”

It said that this should be an integral part of the overall provision of healthcare to those fleeing Ukraine, as should the diagnosis and treatment of chronic disease and mental and psychosocial health.

“Many of the people currently fleeing Ukraine are expected to not be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. In addition, uptake for childhood vaccinations is reportedly suboptimal in Ukraine.”

The watchdog advised that ensuring continuity of routine vaccinations and addressing gaps in prior vaccination histories are an essential element of public health support for displaced people.

In this context, ensuring vaccination coverage against polio, measles and Covid-19 should be a priority.

In addition the ECDC recommends that public health authorities in receiving countries increase awareness so their community healthcare providers can detect and report infectious diseases.

“This should be an integral part of the overall provision of healthcare to the population fleeing the crisis while facilitating the public health response.

“Receiving countries should consider enhancing surveillance for vaccine-preventable and other communicable diseases. Furthermore, it is important to consider establishing syndromic surveillance systems within reception centres and, if possible, in the community.”

It said health services should be aware that multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) are frequently connected to war wounds and require early diagnosis and treatment.

“This operational document focuses on the infectious disease vulnerabilities of those fleeing Ukraine and the associated requirements for infection prevention and control,” it said.

Separately, health and other unions representing the 22 healthcare staff who died of Covid-19 have welcomed the Government’s €100,000 payment to the relatives of the deceased.

The tax-free payments to the estates of the deceased healthcare workers will not affect legal rights, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said.

He said a straightforward application process will be put in place.



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