Ireland may be forced back into lockdown if the rise in Covid cases is not checked, a senior clinician has warned.
Dr Colman O’Loughlin, a consultant at the Mater Hospital in Dublin, said the hospital has reached intensive care “surge capacity” and is now ventilating patients outside ICU.
It was the latest hospital to cancel non-essential services because of Covid.
Dr O’Loughlin told RTE’s Today with Claire Byrne: “I’ve tried to reassure people we were coping. I just can’t say that at the moment.
“We’ve opened up society, which is the appropriate thing to do and with that we have an obligation to provide the normal level of healthcare to all. But unfortunately we’re stymied because a lot of our acute hospital beds and ICU beds are taken up with Covid patients.
“It’s very serious. That’s replicated throughout almost every hospital I’ve been in contact with across the country.
“With that comes a degree of harm, we are curtailing services to other patients who need access to care.”
Dr O’Loughlin acknowledged there would be huge reluctance to go down the “lockdown route”.
He added: “But without that it’s not clear to us working on the frontline what the trigger event will be to turn things around, to stop 3,000 to 4,000 cases per day.
“I think it’s been proven before, we do have not just scientific evidence, but anecdotal evidence, we can see ourselves that every time we did go into lockdowns the numbers decreased.
“But absolutely nobody wants to go there, I’m not advocating for that.
“We will be forced into it as a society if things don’t turnaround, it will be mandated.”
Dr O’Loughlin said there was “absolutely no question” people who are doubly vaccinated are “very well protected”, but transmission rates are still too high among those who have received their jabs.
He said there is an almost equal number of unvaccinated people and vaccinated vulnerable people in The Mater ICU.
Dr O’Loughlin said: “We can’t see a way out by continuing as we are.
“If people in society value that health service and emergency care that they’ve always had, they’ll have to start taking different responsibilities and start to stop relying on [Chief Medical Officer] Tony Holohan and the Government to keep advising on how to reduce transmission.
“Everyone is this country knows very well how to do that.”
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