Aim is not to 'demonise' people over Covid-19 says HSE chief

HSE director general Paul Reid said if people follow basic public health guidelines the number of infections will fall.
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Vivienne Clarke

The director general of the HSE Paul Reid has said he was confident that if the public “do all the basics” of wearing masks, observing hand hygiene and practising social distancing then “we can make progress” to get down to “sustainable lower levels.”

Mr Reid told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland said that while some progress had been made under Level 5 they were working behind the scenes to see where numbers had stalled.

There was not an aim “to demonise people” he said, but people needed to realise that as they meet there was a risk, and if they did not wear masks or meet indoors then the risks were amplified.

Mr Reid gave an example of a meeting which was attended by eight people, none of them wearing a mask. All eight have now tested positive for Covid-19.


“I don’t believe there is a magic number, we want to get it down further. We have made good progress, but last week the number seemed to freeze.”

Mr Reid pointed out that even during the first wave of the virus on the Spring Ireland’s outcomes were better than other European countries.

Daily admissions to hospitals are down seven per cent, with daily activity down eight per cent while trolley numbers were down 70 per cent on this week last year. “That’s a very significant number.”

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This reduction could partly be attributed to more home help, he said. The home help waiting list was down to 2,800 from 7,500.

But Mr Reid said he was concerned about outbreaks of the virus in hospitals with 450 staff at present unable to work either because they had tested positive or they were close contacts.

It was very difficult to identify how the virus got into health care settings as it may come from health care workers, from patients or from visitors.

A worker on a ward has to wash their hands ten times per hour on a 10-hour shift, he said. "It is very difficult for our teams."

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