A further 334 confirmed cases of Covid-19 have been reported to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, 174 of them in Dublin.
Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said that, despite making up just a quarter of the population, people aged 15 to 34 accounted for 40 per cent of Covid-19 cases in the past two months.
“This is not surprising as they are more likely to be moving about in the community, going to school, higher education or work, and keeping our economy and key services going,” he said.
In a fresh appeal to heed the public health advice, he said: “For teenagers and people in their 20s and 30s in particular, I know that what has been, and is being asked of you again is extraordinary. This pandemic has impacted on your education, your employment, your relationships and your social lives.”
He said the vast majority have “done the right thing” and have heeded public health advice.
“But the disease is continuing to spread disproportionately among younger people at present. And so, I am asking you to stick with this and continue to follow the public health advice.”
He called on young people to “be a role model” for others.
The latest cases, announced on Tuesday evening, bring to 33,444 the total number of cases linked to the virus in the Republic.
No new deaths were reported, leaving the total number of deaths at 1,792.
Men account for 158 of the new cases and women for 175, and the gender was not given in one case. Some 72 per cent are aged under 45.
Tonight there are 90 people hospitalised,19 in ICU (23 & 8, 4 weeks ago).This is a very concerning trend.Please ignore noises that relay otherwise.We all have to protect our family, friends & health workers from being the next number. Please let’s do it. We can #COVID19 @HSELive
— Paul Reid (@paulreiddublin) September 21, 2020
Fifty-five cases were identified as community transmission and 53 per cent are associated with outbreaks or are close contacts of a confirmed case.
Of the new cases, 34 are in Cork, 30 in Kildare, 18 in Donegal, 10 in Galway, 10 in Louth, six in Clare, six in Mayo, six in Meath, six in Roscommon, five in Waterford, five in Limerick, with the remaining 23 spread across 11 counties.
Earlier this week, the chief executive of the Health Service Executive described the rise in hospitalisations for Covid-19 as “very concerning” and called on the public to take all necessary measures to protect friends, family and healthcare workers.
HSE chief Paul Reid tweeted late on Monday night that there are currently 90 people being treated in hospital for Covid-19 included 19 people in ICU, a sharp rise from the 23 hospitalisations and eight ICU patients four weeks ago.
“This is a very concerning trend,” warned Mr Reid. “Please ignore noises that relay otherwise. We all have to protect our family, friends and health workers from being the next number. Please let’s do it. We can.”
In another tweet, Mr Reid said 85,000 tests had been carried out over the past week but cautioned that testing “doesn’t provide us with a ‘suit of armour’ against the virus. Our first line of defence is ourselves and and what we do. It’s serious again but we can turn this around too.”
Official data released on Tuesday shows there are currently 90 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Irish hospitals and 96 suspected cases. There are 17 confirmed cases receiving ICU treatment and another eight ICU patients with suspected Covid-19. Of the confirmed ICU cases, nine are on a ventilator and of the suspected cases, three are using a ventilator.
Concerns are rising over the admission rate to hospitals, as even a relatively low number of Covid-19 cases disrupts normal procedures.
Intensive care consultant John Bates urged the HSE on Tuesday to ensure that non-Covid-19 treatment continues in hospitals despite the rise in cases of the virus.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association said this week an additional 2,000 hospital beds were needed almost immediately and that investment was required to increase space in hospitals to allow for social distancing.
However, the HSE’s chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said more intensive care beds was not the solution to the spread of Covid-19 and that the State should not rely on beds “as a line of defence”.
Dr Colman O’Loughlin, president of the Intensive Care Society and a consultant at the Mater hospital, said the situation was being monitored very closely in case there was a tipping point that will require meaningful action.
“The numbers don’t lie,” he told RTÉ Radio 1’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Tuesday.
The number of Covid-19 patients had increased at the Mater hospital from 16 to 21 in recent days.
Dr O’Loughlin said Covid-19 patients were not just displaying respiratory failure, there was also neurological and cardiac impact, not all of which could be managed on wards and required intensive care.
“We are trying to keep all the beds open, not just for Covid patients. We are doing our best to run parallel systems,” he said.
Delays in the arrival of the flu vaccine was also of concern, he said. Data from Australia had shown they had a very mild flu season this year, in the past that had traditionally been a sign of what to expect in the northern hemisphere.
Dr O’Loughlin said some of the measures introduced for Covid-19 would also work to suppress the flu.