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27th July 2021

Horizon Scan (Last Update: 21.07.2021)

COVID-19 Increase

Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Ronan Glynn, has warned of a “significant increase” in hospitalisations and intensive care admissions, should COVID-19 numbers continue to rise.

Dr Glynn has highlighted how the 14-day incidence rate has increased from 93 per 100,000 in the week of June 24th to 246 per 100,000 on July 21st.

The estimated growth rate of new cases is approximately 6 per cent to 7 per cent per day.

According to Dr Glynn, incidence is highest and increasing rapidly in those aged 16 to 24, although it is also rising in other age groups.

Artificial Intelligence Development for Mental Health

A chatbot is a computer programme designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet.

An Irish-founded company has raised €76.4m in investment as it seeks to transform mental health care.

Founded in 2017 by University College Dublin graduate, Alison Darcy, the San Francisco-based company has developed what it calls a “relational agent”.

Named “Woebot”, this artificially intelligent chatbot can form strong, deep relationships and therapeutic bonds with users. It can deliver human-like therapeutic responses to those experiencing mental health difficulties.

Hot Weather Warnings

Met Éireann has issued high temperature warnings with temperatures expected to exceed 30°C in some areas. Temperatures at night are not expected to fall much below 17°C.

Advice to the public includes staying hydrated; using sunscreen when outdoors and remaining indoors in the hottest part of the day; keeping blinds and curtains closed in the daytime; turning off unused appliances (these generate warmth) and swapping electric light bulbs to low heat LED bulbs.

Increased Access to Medical Cannabis

More patients in Ireland will be able to get access to medical cannabis under the supervision of their consultant. This week the Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly, said that medical consultants can make an application for themselves and their patients to register for the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP). This move is set to increase availability and benefit eligible patients around the country.

Moving Away from Congregated Care Taking too Long

In 2012, the HSE launched a report which aimed to enable people with disabilities to move from large institutions to supported living in their own homes in the community.

However, progress is very slow. An Oireachtas committee heard recently that moving away from congregated care for people with intellectual disabilities will take another 20 years.

Prof Roy McConkey, from the Institute of Nursing and Health Research at the University of Ulster, said in 2007, there were more than 4,000 people with intellectual disabilities living in congregated settings in Ireland. By 2017, those numbers had decreased by less than one-third.

There are consequences associated with congregated living, such as a greater risk of abuse, higher risk of contracting illness, and shorter life expectancy, so it is vital that this issue remains high on the Government’s agenda.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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