Irish Hospitals Face Breaking Point With Virus Cases Surging

(Bloomberg) -- Ireland’s hospital system faces mounting pressure, with ambulances lined up outside one facility over the weekend as the coronavirus sweeps across the country.

Doctors were forced to treat patients in ambulances outside Letterkenny Hospital in the northwest of the country on Jan. 10, and national intensive care bed availability is down to 38.

The government relaxed restrictions last month, a tactic that may have contributed to one of the world’s highest contagion rates amid increasing evidence of the U.K. variant in Ireland in recent days. More than 160 staff at Letterkenny Hospital are missing from work because they’ve either been infected or are deemed close contacts, Tony Canavan, Chief Executive Officer of Saolta University Healthcare Group, told RTE Radio.

“The numbers of admissions has increased very, very quickly over the last three or four days,” Canavan said. “There is no doubt that the overall system is under a huge pressure.”

Meanwhile in Northern Ireland, Western Trust hospital group appealed for off-duty staff for help with a surge in cases.