TWO IRISH health organisations have written to the Chief Medical Officer asking for public health measures like wearing masks indoor and working from home to be revisited, as "hospitals are overwhelmed and need real assistance."
In a letter to the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, CEO of the HSE Paul Reid, and Chair of the HSE Board Ciaran Devane, the Irish Nurse and Midwives Organisation and the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine said that since the lifting of the mask mandate in Ireland on 28 February, 11,020 patients have been without a bed.
They also said that as of this morning, 31 March, 1,610 patients were in hospital with covid and over 5,000 healthcare workers were sick with the virus.
"In addition to the very serious patient risks, there are very significant risks for medical and nursing staff who are now exhausted from being on the front line, dealing with wave-upon-wave of patients diagnosed with COVID and the other drivers of increased attendances, including a significant increase in acute mental health emergencies and increased paediatric admissions, while dealing with their own personal and family anxieties," they said.
They asked for public health measures to be revisited and for adherence to the advice from the World Health Organisation to be followed.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
"The INMO and our colleagues in the Irish Association for Emergency Medicine have come together today to call on the Government and public health teams to review measures ahead of the peak of the latest wave of the COVID virus.
"Wearing Masks and working from home will assist, they will not stop the spread, but have and will reduce intensity of infection and reduce cross infection. Mandating these measures is now a matter of urgency."
She said the public need to be asked once again to "step up to the plate in order to protect those who are working on our frontlines."
Similarly, the IAEM President said the situation in hospitals at the moment "is the worst that many of my colleagues and I have seen in our careers."
"The situation at present is intolerable for all who work in our hospitals. Our hospitals have been hanging together by a thread of goodwill of staff but that is about to snap.
"Medical professionals have been sounding the alarm for a long time now. Immediate stronger public health measures are needed – not doing so and abandoning the hospitals to the inevitable will lead to preventable unnecessary higher levels of illness requiring hospital admission and, sadly, for some a fatal outcome."
Earlier today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 that the current wave of Covid-19 "does not justify the return of economic restrictions, or the restrictions that we had in earlier phases of Covid-19."
However, he did recognise the strain that the current wave is having on hospitals.