Paul Reid: 'There’s one big hurdle in our way and that’s the Delta variant'

ireland
Paul Reid: 'There’s One Big Hurdle In Our Way And That’s The Delta Variant'
Coronavirus testing sites open at Dublin Airport, © PA Archive/PA Images
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By Cate McCurry, PA

The threat of the Delta variant is one “big hurdle” the country has to overcome in its battle against Covid-19, according to the chief executive of the HSE.

Paul Reid said the public can approach the threat with a level of confidence that stems from the vaccination programme.

In his weekly HSE briefing, Mr Reid also said the five-day and seven-day averages of the virus have jumped by 160 per cent and 150 per cent respectively, compared to two weeks ago.

Compared to last week, the overall 14-day incidence rate is up more than 66 per cent.

Health officials say their concerns about the potential impact on hospital numbers over August remains high.

“It’s equally true or fair to say that there’s one big hurdle in our way for the moment that we have to cross and that’s related to the Delta variant and its potential impacts between now August and September,” Mr Reid said.

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“Like trying to cause any hurdle, we should go into with a level of confidence.

“Confidence that the vaccination programme is giving more protection everyday to more and more people.”

Mr Reid said indications of the virus shows that it is growing nationally.

“We can see very strong impact overall compared to last week, the five-day average is up 95 per cent, the seven-day average is up 93 per cent,” he added.

“Compared to two weeks ago, the five-day average is up 160 per cent and the seven-day average is up 150 per cent.

“But on vaccinations, equally, we should take good confidence with what’s happening there and the programme there’s no doubt it’s really flying.

“In July, over a million vaccines alone were administered.

“If we are achieving higher numbers of Covid patients throughout August and September, it poses a real threat to the progress we’ve been aiming to make in the last few weeks in getting back to non-Covid care, to get back to elective care and none of us want to turn the dial back down on that one again.

“So this is a time we want to ensure that in the coming weeks our exhausted some healthcare workers do get a chance to get a break during the coming weeks.

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“We know the impact it’s had on them for the last 16 months.”

A total of 5.34 million vaccines have been administered to date, with three million people having received their first dose, and almost 2.5 million people are fully vaccinated.

Testing volumes are up 15 per cent compared to last week, with a positivity rate of more than 10.5 per cent.

Mr Reid said that testing sites in Dublin, Donegal, Louth, Galway and Meath are particularly busy.

Some 75 per cent of cases have been adults under the age of 34, and 32 per cent under the age of 14.

Waiting lists

HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor said the outpatient waiting list has grown considerably in recent months.

There has been a delay in publishing updated data following the cyberattack against the HSE.

Ms O’Connor said the waiting lists have grown “really very significantly” and now stand at over 647,000 people.

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“That’s a huge number, and something that we have to really focus on,” she added.

“We had started to make some inroads in our outpatient list late last year, but the surge from January to March really affected that.

“Our ability to do outpatient work was severely compromised and impacted even further by the cyberattack.”

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