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Estimated 15,000 HSE staff out on Covid leave: ‘Without derogation we would be in severe trouble’

Thousands of absences connected to Covid-19 or isolation rules are putting pressure on hospitals, according to HSE Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor.

The HSE estimates that 12% of its employees is now absent, which is “between 14,000 and 15,000′′, O’Connor added.

No derogation clause to the new close-contact restrictions for healthcare workers, says HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Colm Henry.

In terms of our intensive care workers, there are maybe 1,800 people on Covid related leave across the country, probably 200 more.

The highly transmissible Omicron variation is expected to be at least five times more transmissible than the previous dominant form, Delta.

This has resulted in daily records being broken, with 25% of Ireland’s total cases for the preceding 12 months being reported since Christmas.

Although the variety affects the lungs less than the nose and throat, it is thought to be less likely to proceed to a more serious sickness.

But if it gets to the lungs, it’ll cause severe disease exactly like past Covid-19 types. Dr. Colm Henry:
Dr Henry remarked on Newstalk Breakfast that healthcare staff who are close contacts of proven Covid patients would be “in serious trouble” if a waiver was not granted.

“We detect very high transmission rates with this variation, 60 percent positivity in community testing, and then 35-40% transmission inside families — very high.”

Restrict movement for five days, and perform three antigen tests over five days if a healthcare professional is in close contact with a Covid-19 case.

If they have no symptoms of Covid-19 and no antigen or PCR test results, they can return to work.

“While there are some hopeful indicators coming from South Africa indicating a reduced severity of sickness, we can’t be sure yet,” Dr. Henry added.

“Our colleagues on the ground or frontline tell us the illness seems to be less severe — with less of this nasty lung infection.”

Dr Henry said the HSE would be in a better position to provide information on how severely ill people with Covid-19 are next week.

Despite only 5% of the eligible population being unvaccinated, almost half of ICU patients are.