HSE CEO Paul Reid has acknowledged that 20% of the first batch of personal protective equipment (PPE) that has arrived in Ireland - mostly masks - is not suitable for general healthcare use.
It comes amid concerns over the quality of some of the protective equipment that has been received from a Chinese supplier over the past week.
Mr Reid said the Executive has told the supplier - who has been 'cooperating with the HSE' over the issue - that it does not want any more of the equipment that isn't suitable in the next orders.
65% of the PPE received is useful, another 15% - mostly gowns - is acceptable as an alternative to a preferred product, while 20% is not suitable for use by healthcare workers here.
However, Mr Reid said that 20% may be useful for other purposes, such as in isolation facilities.
The HSE chief also said an Irish supplier in Limerick will soon treble its capacity of making some PPE, having already doubled their capacity.
Officials said there are also some products which meet all of the necessary specifications for PPE - such as cover-all suits - but they are not the type typically used in Irish healthcare settings.
They said it doesn't mean there is anything wrong with the products, but that they do not meet Ireland's needs or specifications.
Some equipment has been classified as being suitable for use only if the preferred product is not available, as it's not as durable.
Mr Reid noted that major elements of PPE are suitable for use but some elements aren’t and will therefore not be used.
'Tight on stock'
Speaking a press conference this morning, Mr Reid said this week has been a “significant challenge” regarding PPE - suggesting the market is "extremely volatile", and that the products can only be fully analysed and tested once they arrive in Ireland.
He said he will "remain anxious every single day” about PPE, and that he will be only happy when Ireland receives kits that fully protect healthcare workers.
Mr Reid said: "We are still significantly tight on stock in some elements of our healthcare system.
"It remains an ongoing daily delivery and monitoring [process] to ensure we do support and maintain quality and volume."
He also said that some of the PPE separately donated from third-parties, while well meaning, isn’t suitable and won’t be distributed to or used by healthcare workers.
Elsewhere, the HSE today confirmed 70,000 people have responded to the HSE's appeal for help for anyone who can assist the frontline efforts - with 820 applications progressed over the past week.
50 COVID-19 testing centres have now been set-up here, while 4,500 tests will be done daily in labs from next week.
The HSE is also aiming to have 4,000 people involved in contact tracing efforts to identify the close contacts of confirmed cases.