TRENDS IN HOSPITAL figures are still a concern for public health experts as the number of patients with Covid-19 has remained “stuck” in recent weeks.

There are 360 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals around the country this morning, with 82 in ICU.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid has said there is still a “lot more to get through” before a return to more normal levels in hospitals.

In the last 24 hours up to 11am, there were 19 new cases of patients with Covid-19, and 10 were discharged.

82 patients with Covid-19 are in ICU, with one admission and two discharges in the last 24 hours.

Yesterday, there were 328 hospitalised patients with Covid-19, with 83 in ICU.

Over the last two weeks, the daily number of Covid-19 patients has mostly fluctuated in between 340 and 360.

Speaking on Newstalk’s On The Record, Paul Reid of the HSE said that overall, hospital figures have “come down hugely for us over the past number of weeks from 2,000, but we do need to remind ourselves – that number of 360, that’s actually the same number of the peak of the second wave that we had, so we’re in no way at normal levels in our hospitals”.

Source: Covid-19 Hub

Reid said that the recent hospital figures, which have been “stuck” compared to declining numbers in previous weeks, coupled with an increase today, are cause for concern.

“That would give us concern around trends, particularly in line with some of the cases we’re seeing coming through this weekend, slightly rising cases,” Reid said.

“We’ve a lot more to get through in our hospitals before we’re back to anywhere near normal levels,” he said.

“We still see a very high positivity rate. If you’re a close contact, it’s a 25% likelihood that you will be positive too and if it’s within the household, it’s a 33% positivity rate.”

Reid said that transmission levels, particularly of the B117 variant, are still very strong and that the positivity rate is still very high.

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“It is important that everyone protects themselves and holds their guard. It’s still transmitting at too high a level in the community,” he said.

More than 10% of people in Ireland have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.

As of Thursday, 18 March, 478,725 first doses have been administered, representing 10.05% of the population.

A further 525 new cases of Covid-19 and nine deaths were confirmed in Ireland yesterday evening.

The update brought the total number of confirmed cases of the virus to 229,831 and the number of deaths to 4,585.