Health officials warn that “more harsh restrictions” may be needed in…

H

ealth officials have warned Covid passports may not be enough to stop hospitals being overwhelmed and “more harsh restrictions” may need to be considered next month.

A Covid-19 modelling paper from the Department of Health has informed Executive ministers that positive situations have risen by 23% in a week.

The paper, seen by the PA news agency, attributes the surge partly to relaxations in the hospitality sector at the end of October and the return of schools after mid-term.

Hospital admissions have risen by 19% in the last week, while occupancy is up 10%.

Evidence indicates that adherence to guidelines by the public is declining and that there has been very low uptake of Covid certification on a voluntary basis by the hospitality sector

The conversion rate of situations to hospital admissions has risen above 2% for the first time since early September, and is now estimated at around 2.8%.

The paper says an increase in admissions is unavoidable in the coming week and will continue to rise beyond that if situations numbers are not reduced.

Officials warn that community transmission is at a “high level and increasing rapidly”.

The modelling paper notes ICU occupancy and deaths have decreased in the last week, but stresses the lag in those indicators method they do not explain the recent surge in infections.

The paper calls for measures to increase adherence to recommended measures such as wearing confront masks. / PA Archive

The Health Department experts state that without further intervention “as soon as possible”, modelling indicates hospital capacity may be surpassed in mid-December, if the current trajectory follows a central pathway.

The paper states: “Evidence indicates that adherence to guidelines by the public is declining and that there has been very low uptake of Covid certification on a voluntary basis by the hospitality sector.”

It states the need for immediate measures to increase adherence to current mitigations – such as confront disguise use and work-from-home guidance.

It says those mitigations will be doubtful to bring the reproduction rate below one unless they are accompanied by “extensive use of Covid certification across higher risk settings”.

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