There are 1,426 patients with Covid-19 in Irish hospitals today, a decrease of 26 since yesterday. The number of those in ICU has risen overnight by three to 128.
Dr Michael Power, consultant in Intensive Care Medicine in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, said the pressure on critical care is “grim and worrying”.
He told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland there are currently 37 beds available in the ICU system.
Some hospitals have contacted other facilities and activated the mobile intensive care ambulance service transport to transfer patients from one hospital to another to alleviate pressure.
Dr Power said there is an initiative across the acute hospital system to step down scheduled surgery, except for emergency and time critical cancer surgery, which will increase the surge capacity from 292 to 350.
Suggestions of rationing critical care do not apply at the moment, he said.
The amount of people with coronavirus in hospital has more than quadrupled in the last two weeks, Health Service Executive Paul Reid revealed yesterday.
He said the private hospitals have already started taking some urgent non-Covid patients. 
One in five (21%) Covid-19 swabs are returning a positive result with 180,897 tests carried out in the past seven days.
The Department of Health was notified of eight further coronavirus-related deaths yesterday and 6,888 new cases.
Public Health specialist Dr Marie Casey warned that while the daily case number is high it is “also an underestimate of what is really happening. Many people won’t be diagnosed.”
In a post on Twitter she said: “The pattern of infection indicates widespread community transmission. This is not like wave 2, more like wave 1 but worse.
“You’ve got to assume that anyone you might meet is a positive. This is the time, of all the times in the past 10 months, that you need to stay at home.”
Dr Gabriel Colleran, Vice President of the Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association said the next fortnight is going to “push our acute hospital system to the absolute limit”.
She told RTÉ’s Brendan O’Connor:  “Whether it will break that limit and we will be in a situation where doctors will be forced to ration care –  which would be horrendous for everybody involved – we just don’t know until we see how it pans out.”
Today, Minister of State in the Department of Transport, Hildegarde Naughton announced an extension in the exemption that allows for those aged over 70 to apply for a driving licence without the need to provide a medical report.
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It comes following the surge of Covid-19 cases and in order to ease the burden on medical services.
Minister Naughton said: “This means that persons of 70 years of age or over can apply for, and renew, their driving licence without the need to submit a medical report, on the condition that they do not have an identified or specified illness and are not applying for a truck or bus category.
“This extended measure will eliminate the need for our drivers over the age of 70 from having to make an unnecessary journey to their GP or the National Driver Licence Service centre.”
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has called for tighter Covid-19 travel restrictions.
“Controls around travel remain inadequate,” she told RTÉ’s This Week yesterday.
“Nobody should be coming to our shores without a negative test, it should not be limited to Britain and South Africa  there should be a second mandatory test after they arrive here.
“We need a proper quarantine system that is not ad hoc and voluntary the very last thing we want to do is to be importing any more of the virus.”
Ms McDonald also said the Leaving Cert exams should go ahead in the normal way “if at all possible”.
She said the best scenario is to “have our children back in education but the fact is it’s not safe at the moment”.

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