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HSE says hospital system 'challenged but not overwhelmed' though trends remain 'a strong concern'

HSE CEO Paul Reid said that some hospitals may have to start deferring or cancelling procedures.

HSE CEO Paul Reid
HSE CEO Paul Reid
Image: Photocall Ireland

HSE CEO PAUL Reid has said trends in the spread of Covid-19 “continue to be a strong concern” for the HSE but said Ireland’s hospital system is “challenged, but not overwhelmed”. 

Reid was speaking at a HSE briefing this afternoon, following a stark warning from NPHET last night that all key indicators of the disease’s spread had deteriorated further since it issued its Level 5 recommendation on Sunday. 

Reid said that some hospitals may have to start deferring or cancelling procedures, and may have to use some of their surge capacity beds.

It comes after health officials confirmed 611 additional cases of Covid-19 and 5 more deaths. 

There are currently 159 people hospitalised with Covid-19, including 25 in ICU. 

Every hospitalised Covid-19 cases has a “significant impact,” Reid said today, but cautioned against comparing hospital and ICU figures with those seen in the early stages of the pandemic “because we were not delivering all non-urgent and non-Covid services, as we are now.”

“Every single hospitalisation that we have to deal with in relation to Covid-19 has a very significant impact on the wider services that we are trying to sustain and provide,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Reid said that 1.2 million tests have been completed in Ireland, and that the average turnaround time is 1.9 days. The mean average time from swab to result is 27 hours. 

Almost 90,000 tests were completed last week, he said, and 18,000 people have been contacted as part of contact tracing calls.

The briefing also heard that the positivity rate for the past seven days is 3.9%. 

HSE Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said that a total of 287 schools have testing that is completed or ongoing,

6,741 staff and students have been identified and are undergoing day zero or day seven testing, he said. 

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Of these, there were 122 detected cases which is a positivity rate of 1.8%.

Dr Henry also said confirmed the HSE is reviewing its hospital visiting policy which will see “a level of visiting on the basis of compassion”.

This will include partners of expectant mothers, he said. 

NPHET met today and is due to give its advice to government as to whether to increase restrictions above the current Level 3 or not. 

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