The HSE says some hospitals are experiencing “winter level” surges of patients in emergency departments, as Ireland braces for a wave of Delta variant cases.

HSE chief operations officer Ann O’Connor said some hospitals have seen a large number of people attending in the last week.

Ms O’Connor said hospitals in Mayo, Galway, Tallaght and Mullingar have been under particular strain, with some emergency departments are seeing “winter level” attendances.

These hospitals may have to cut back on non-Covid care again, if there is a serious rise in patients hit by the Delta variant.

The HSE revealed it has plans in place to trigger if the highly infectious Delta variant causes a spike in cases and a rise in hospitalisations.

It comes as 45 patients were on trolleys yesterday at University Hospital Galway - the most overcrowded in the country, with 13 patients on trolleys at Mayo University Hospital and 20 at Sligo University Hospital.

HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry says there will be some rise in hospitalisations, but it will not be on the scale seen in January due to the vaccination rollout.

Some two million people are now fully vaccinated and seven in 10 adults have had at least one dose.