Ireland at a 'very concerning crossroads' with the virus, according to HSE chief

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Kenneth Fox
The recent rise in cases in Ireland is 'very concerning' and we are currently at a crossroads with the virus, according to HSE director general Paul Reid.

He was speaking at the HSE's weekly briefing at the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin today.

"I want to start by saying we are at very concerning crossroads with the virus in this country. It will only get worse if we stay the way we are," he said.

Mr Reid said there has been a 39 per cent increase in the number of positive cases in the country over the last week. It comes as yesterday 254 cases of the virus were confirmed yesterday and a further three deaths.

He said one of the more worry aspects has been the increase in the number of people in ICUs. There are currently 14 people in ICUs and a further 76 people in hospital.

"I don't want to be a prophet of doom but these are the facts and the data we have. If we got back to a full lockdown, it is not a good road to go down.

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"We need to make a radical shift left and take stock of what is happening," he said.

He did say that we are in a much stronger position now as regards coping with the virus than we were back in May. He also said that we have reached a huge milestone by completing our 1 millionth test yesterday.

1 millionth test

Outbreaks and clusters

Mr Reid also shed further light on how the HSE have dealt with serial testing and clusters.

"We are managing a higher number of outbreaks and contacts in the countries. There has been a 70 per cent increase in volume last week with community testing," he said.

He also outlined that to date 15,500 test have been carried out in meat plants, 57,000 tests have been carried out in nursing homes in Phase 2 of testing and overall 500 tests have been completed in Direct Provision centres, with just one positive test.

He said they a currently ramping up their workforce for testing with the aim for a further 3,000 new staff. He also said they are looking to recruit 700 new swabbers for testing, with a plan to bring in even more over the next few months.

Meanwhile, the chief clinical officer of the HSE, Colm Henry said we need to continue to take the public health advice seriously:

"We are trying to suppress the virus and the best line of defense is ourselves and our behaviour. We have to make sure we do not let the virus spread from household to household."

He also spoke about testing in schools and said that while there have been positive cases "Community transmission drives cases in schools not the other way around," he said.

It was also confirmed by the HSE lead for testing and tracing, Niamh O'Beirne, that 96 schools have needed testing since they reopened last month and overall there have been 35 positive cases.

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