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Ireland's Covid-19 situation 'deteriorating at more rapid pace' than any other European country

The HSE has said we are heading into “a very volatile” period.

Image: Leon Farrell/

THE HSE’S CHIEF Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry has said Ireland’s Covid-19 situation is now deteriorating more quickly than any other European country.

Dr Henry said the country’s five-day moving average is now 714, up almost 100% on this day lat week. He said we are sharply escalating upwards, with the curve “heading in a vertical direction, almost”.

The percentage of positive tests this week has gone up to 5%, from 3% and the number of referrals for tests is also up significantly.

“As we’ve said for many weeks we achieved the best or second best in Europe in terms of our 14-day incidence, but in terms of our deterioration over the past week, we’re deteriorating at a more rapid pace in seven days than any other country in Europe, so we won’t hold this position for long,” he said.

If we continue the current trajectory the impact will be felt right across the healthcare system, he said, not just in acute hospitals and ICUs, but in community services and GP surgeries too.

Dr Henry said the pandemic has highlighted the fragility of healthcare systems, even those in well developed countries, citing the examples of the Czech Republic, where the health minister recently expressed concern about the high occupancy of intensive care beds, and Italy, with up to 500 beds in one hospital occupied by Covid-19 patients.

HSE CEO Paul Reid said the healthcare system is in a stronger position than it was at this time last year, but warned that can “turn around and change extremely quickly”.

“We don’t need to look very far to see an example of this, what happened in the North of Ireland with some of their hospitals becoming quite overwhelmed over a space of days.

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“I know from our own engagements with them, with consultants, clinicians, through our National Ambulance Services, and through our hospitals, I know from their perspective they are equally staggered by how quickly this took effect and the immediate impact on their hospitals.

“So while we do go in stronger, we are heading into a very volatile period and I do urge the public to work with us, as you have through the year.”

Reid also said the HSE is on track with its vaccination rollout plans. The first batch of almost 10,00 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine will arrive in Ireland on St Stephen’s Day. The HSE expects a second delivery of 31,000 doses of this vaccine next week. 

He said the first vaccines will be delivered on 30 and 31 December and scheduling has begun for a three-week sweep of residential care settings after this. 

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