Sudden resurgence of the epidemic in the Republic of Ireland

In Galway, January 1st.  Following the end of year celebrations, the Republic of Ireland is facing a massive resurgence of the Covid-19 epidemic.

The case of the Republic of Ireland illustrates how the health situation in a country can deteriorate extremely quickly as soon as vigilance drops or the “English” variant of SARS-CoV-2 begins to circulate too widely.

In eight days, this European state of about 5 million inhabitants recorded 50,000 new positive cases for the coronavirus (4,929 for the single day of Monday, January 11), or a third of all those identified in the country since the beginning. of the pandemic. In one week, as of January 10, it is the place in the world where the virus had spread the fastest, with 1,323 new daily cases detected per million inhabitants, according to calculations by Johns University- Hopkins.

The country’s hospitals are already on the verge of saturation, Ireland having an undersized health system in normal times (2.3 hospital beds per 1,000 inhabitants, almost three times less than in France) . Tuesday, January 12, 1,700 Covid-19 patients were hospitalized in Ireland, including 158 in intensive care, more than the peak of the first wave (155 patients in intensive care in April 2020).

“No one wants to see more Covid-19 patients. Our common task is to stay at home and help our hospitals and nursing homes return to safer levels ”, Paul Reid, one of the leaders of the HSE (Health Service Executive), Ireland’s public health system, warned on Tuesday, who said on Twitter the day before:

“I have always tried to balance my messages (…) but the situation in our hospitals is very tense. “

More than thirty beds available in intensive care

As of Tuesday, there were only thirty beds available in ICU (intensive care unit, intensive care) and thirteen establishments in the country declared that they no longer had any free. Detected at the end of December in Ireland (16 cases recorded on December 29), the “British” variant of SARS-CoV-2, between 50 and 70% more infectious, is now identified in almost one in two positive cases, according to the health authorities of the country.

“At the beginning of December, Ireland was still doing very well and was one of the good pupils at European level”, recalls Kingston Mills, professor of immunology at Trinity College Dublin.

Read also Variant of Covid-19: why a highly contagious virus is more dangerous than a very lethal virus

The reason for the sudden resurgence is “Probably linked to a combination of factors”, adds the specialist. “The English variant may have contributed to the very strong increase in contamination, it is now responsible for 44% of new cases”. But we must above all look for the relaxation of the rules at Christmas, believes Mr. Mills. “The Irish have returned to the pub, to the restaurant, to their family in the countryside, others have returned from abroad. There was a lot of movement, a lot of social interaction. “

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