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Situation in nursing homes receiving 'intensive' HSE support has stabilised, Paul Reid says

HSE CEO Paul Reid said supports were being provided to nursing homes dealing with category “red” outbreaks

File pic of HSE CEO Paul Reid 
Image: PA
File pic of HSE CEO Paul Reid Image: PA
Image: PA

THE SITUATION IN nursing homes receiving intensive support from the State to deal with coronavirus outbreaks has ‘stabilised’, HSE CEO Paul Reid has said.

Reid said supports were being provided to five nursing homes dealing with category “red” outbreaks, under the HSE’s traffic-light alert system.

The increase in Covid-19 cases seen in recent weeks around the country has begun to impact the number of nursing homes requiring increased support to deal with serious outbreaks of the virus.

Reid said the five nursing homes in question have “stabilised” in recent days, in response to a question about a newspaper report that the HSE was providing support categorised as ‘intensive’ to the homes.

“Thankfully those nursing homes we have been working with have stabilised matters in the last number of days and that is what we want to see continue,” he said.

Asked if the HSE was prepared to support more nursing homes this winter, he said:

“There is about 1,100 long term residential facilities for older people that we would be supporting overall.”

“Ultimately in terms of nursing homes – obviously there would be a high risk. There about 20 to 25 that we would be giving a range of supports to. There are probably four that are higher risk in terms of the support that we would be giving to them,” he told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme.

Reid said the range of supports provided include infection prevention control measures, multi-disciplinary team support and arranging clinical care through a GP.

“In a very small number of cases where we have to put in support directly, that would also include further allocation of staff,” he said.

Reid said there has been a steady increase in both hospitalisations and ICU admissions, and while the health service is still managing the Covid-19 situation, managers remain “apprehensive”

“We are still managing but we are apprehensive  looking forward and that is really down to a few issues,” he said.

Reid said that there are some positive trends developing, citing the reduced number of cases and a reduction in the number of close contacts of a confirmed case.

However, he warned there is a time lag in cases developing as younger people who contract the virus go on to infect older people.

Asked when he expects the virus to hit its peak, he said:

“It is difficult to predict but what we need to be cautious of is what we see happening in Europe – if you look at France Italy and Belgium.They are seeing the trend where there is a rise in cases which leads to a rise in hospitilisations and an increases in cases among older people.

“If we can sustain the progress that we have over the past week and manage to turn the trend over the coming weeks then that will give us significant protection throughout the winter,” he said.

Level 5

Level five has been in place across Ireland for since last Thursday.

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Public Health officials will be closely monitoring Covid-19′s spread over the coming weeks as restrictions on movement will – it is hoped – limit the spread of the virus and reduce community transmission.

Ireland’s reproductive number last week was estimated at between 1.3 and 1.4 and early indications show it has fallen again. 

Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan has said a reproductive number of 0.5 would be a sufficient level of transmission to move out of strict restrictions. 

The figures are looking positive. However, Public Health officials have cautioned that it is too early to say if any trend has set in.

Ireland’s national incidence rate is 292.1 cases per 100,000 of the population on a 14-day rolling average, according to data from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre – compared to 302.49 on this day last week.

By comparison to Europe, Ireland’s 14-day incidence rate is lower than France (680.6), Spain (486.7), the United Kingdom (431.6) and Italy (359.5), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

In terms of counties, Cavan’s incidence rate is now estimated at 753.5 cases per 100,000, according to the Department of Health while Tipperary’s incident rate is 145.5 cases per 100,000.

 A further six deaths and 866 cases of the virus confirmed in the State yesterday with eight more deaths and 822 cases reported in Northern Ireland.

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