Almost 6,400 healthcare staff are off work due to coronavirus as hospitals face into their most difficult week on record, with the third peak of the virus imminent.
Those unable to work due to infection or being contacts of a case include 2,500 nurses, 1,500 patient care staff, 600 health and social care professionals and 400 doctors, according to the latest HSE figures.
Massive levels of enforced absenteeism have forced the closure of wards in many hospitals and the curtailment of non-essential services, but Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly insisted yesterday hospitals will be able to cope.
The health service has sufficient staff, along with personal protective equipment, ventilators and oxygen to treat the peak of severely ill virus patients expected shortly, he said.
The Defence Forces have been deployed to three nursing homes in recent days to help ease staffing pressures, following an appeal from the HSE.
A Defence Forces spokesman confirmed more than 25 soldiers had been deployed to nursing homes in Ballincollig and Douglas, Co Cork, and Ennis, Co Clare.
Admissions of coronavirus patients to hospital and ICU continue to slow significantly as the lockdown continues, while new case numbers are falling, though not as fast as might have been expected given the level of restrictions in place.