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Senior NHS officials contacted HSE seeking help for Covid-19 tests

Paul Reid was defending Ireland’s testing capacity following a surge in demand for Covid-19 tests in recent weeks.

HSE CEO Paul Reid
HSE CEO Paul Reid
Image: PA Images

SENIOR NHS OFFICIALS contact the HSE this week seeking help with Covid-19 tests, HSE CEO Paul Reid said today. 

The UK is facing problems with their Government’s Covid-19 test and trace programme, with people being forced to travel hundreds of miles to get a test.

Reid said he was contacted by officials from the NHS earlier this week to help plug a hole in their system.

Reid was defending Ireland’s testing capacity following a surge in demand for Covid-19 tests in recent weeks when he made the revelation.

He said: “What’s happening with their (UK) testing and tracing system, which is in almost collapse and the shutting down of swabbing centres.

“Earlier this week, I was contacted by some very senior officials in the NHS seeking could the Irish health service do some testing in laboratories for themselves.

“What we did in the quieter period in the summer was build up our capacity for 100,000 tests (per week).

“We were not in a position (to help). We built up our capacity purely for Ireland. It was an informal contact but it demonstrates where other systems are at.”

It comes as Reid warned about the rising Covid-19 cases, particularly in Dublin.

The capital could face further restrictions this weekend after NPHET raised concerns when its 14-day incidence rate jumped to more than 100.

During a HSE briefing today, Reid said the country is at a “very concerning juncture” regarding the performance of the virus.

“We have a couple of choices of which road we might determine that we take,” Reid warned.

“The bottom line is we stay on the current road as we are and the current trajectory, it will only get worse if we just keep the way we are.

“You look at the last 17 days, there has been a 39% increase in the number of positive cases, from 150 to 210.”

He said that positive Covid-19 cases in hospitals have jumped from 23 in August to 73 today.

“We would have also been talking around six ICU cases and now today we’re talking about 14, and a continuously rising trend,” he added.

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“I’m particularly concerned with the rise of the cases among those in the 65 age cohort, who are more vulnerable.

“From a HSE perspective, we’re beginning to see a number, particularly in Dublin hospitals, where we have wards frozen because of the number of incidents.

“I don’t paint a picture just to be a prophet of doom but it is the facts and it is the data and it is the evidence of where we currently are.”

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