New Covid wave causing around 125 admissions a day to the Republic's hospitals, acting CMO warns

The Republic is experiencing a rise in hospital admissions caused by a sub-variant of Covid up to five times as transmissible as previous strains, it has been warned.

THERE are around 125 hospital admissions per day in the Republic as a result of the latest Covid surge, the acting chief medical officer has warned.

Professor Breda Smyth said the new surge was caused by a sub-variant more transmissible than previous strains of the virus and was leading to an increase in hospitalisations, mainly among older people.

Experts say the BA.5 variant is five times as transmissible as the Omicron strain.

The latest Covid figures from the south show there were 849 people in hospitals with the virus yesterday. Although that figure was a fall of 36 from the previous day, there were 137 overnight admissions, Ms Smyth said.

Of the 849 inpatients, 32 required intensive care yesterday.

Professor Smyth said the sub-variant was responsible for around 90 percent of current cases being recorded and urged people to remain cautious when in public.

"Everywhere we go into a crowded space it's likely that there is going to be someone that can have the virus," she said.

"So it's important we take every step of the way to protect ourselves, our families and our loved ones from the circulation of the virus."

She added that staying home when displaying symptoms was "really important".

Speaking of the current wave's pressure on hospitals in the Republic, she said Covid was causing "around 125 admissions a day".

There has also been around a 10 percent uptake in older people getting their second Covid vaccine booster, she said.

Warning that those who contracted Covid earlier this year could still be reinfected in the new wave, Professor Smyth said the vaccine still provided protection from severe illness.

"Covid is here for the medium to long term and we had to learn to adapt to it," she said.

Her warnings came as Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said the Republic would not require any Covid restrictions this summer.

Speaking yesterday on RTÉ's Claire Byrne show, Mr Varadkar said it may be possible that the government may ask people to wear face coverings in certain settings later this year if cases continued to rise, but said he did not believe there would be a need for rules that "restrict people's freedoms or cause people's businesses to close".

He also said he expects admissions to fall in the weeks ahead as the current wave eases.

Meanwhile, speaking on the same show was Trinity College Dublin-based immunologist Professor Luke O'Neill, who said although the BA.5 variant behind the latest wave was five times as transmissible as Omicron, current vaccine development could see shots to target the sub-variant by the autumn.

"We should use up the supply we have as it will give protection," he said of current vaccine shots.