A record number of people attended hospital emergency departments (EDs) in the last week, it has been confirmed.
Dr Colm Henry, the Health Service Executive's Chief Clinical Officer said that over 28,000 people attended EDs in that period. While the numbers admitted to hospital were lower than this figure, he said it is still "troubling".
The number of patients being treated in hospital with Covid-19 has been increasing in recent days. Latest figures released on Wednesday morning show that 877 Covid-19 patients were being treated in hospital at the time.
However, the number of patients requiring intensive care treatment remains relatively low, with 47 patients with Covid-19 in ICU on Wednesday.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Dr Henry said high levels of Covid-19 in hospitals were having an impact on the "flow of patients" through hospitals.
There was an increase in the presentation of older people at emergency departments, with a rise of 30% of those aged over 75 compared to last year, Dr Henry said.
"Our staff are telling us that older people are presenting perhaps frailer, sicker, problems secondary to their experience over the past few years, so their admissions tend to be longer and their discharges more complicated."
He said they are working hard to put in additional beds and building models of care that do not rely on acute hospitals.
However, he added that is a short game in terms of building extra capacity in the community.
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