Public health officials are meeting today to discuss changing the rules around close contacts of Covid-19 cases.

The National Public Health Emergency Team is holding talks on what advice to give Government on dealing with the Omicron variant.

The Government has asked NPHET to review the isolation requirements for close contacts of confirmed cases, given staff shortages being experienced by businesses and essential services.

There are about 175 staff absent from Mayo University Hospital and over 400 at Galway University Hospital due to having the virus, or being close contacts.

That's according to the CEO of the Saolta Hospital Group Tony Canavan, who says over 1300 staff are now on Covid-related leave at hospitals across the west & northwest region.

This has led to a reduction of services at hospitals, with only high-priority cases getting elective care, while wards are closed at some hospitals due to staff shortages.

Meanwhile, there's been a significant increase since Christmas in the number of Covid-positive patients being treated at hospitals in this region.

Today, there are 43 Covid patients at Galway University Hospital, 34 at Mayo University Hospital, 19 in Sligo and 11 at Portiuncla Hospital in Ballinasloe.

Tony Canavan told Midwest News this lunchtime that the number of patients with the virus in Saolta hospitals has more than trebled since Christmas Eve....

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