Coronavirus figures 'don't look good, but we're not back to square one' - Henry


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

15.36 26 Mar 2021


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Chief Clinical Officer with the HSE, Dr Colm Henry, has said he understands people are feeling 'huge fatigue' over rising coronavirus infections.

He told Lunchtime Live that looking at the latest number of cases is seeing the 14-day average stuck "and moving up, if anything".

"If we look at the numbers, and we've become addicted to numbers over the past year, it is very despondent - it would create great despondency to look at the numbers.

"But we're not back to square one, and I'll tell you why we're not back to square one.

"We have now more or less completed vaccination in residents in long-term care settings, we are now well into 195,000 vaccinations in the over-70 age group.

"And we've more or less completed the frontline healthcare workers.

"When we complete the over-70s - and we're well half-way through that at 250,000 by the end of this week - we will have afforded great protection to the most vulnerable section of the population.

"So I would urge people not to give up hope".

Coronavirus figures 'don't look good, but we're not back to square one' - Henry

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

'Figures don't look good'

Asked if the numbers could see any potential easing of restrictions, he said: "No, and it is a difficult message.

"But I would urge people - we are not back to square one - the vaccination is something new.

"Yes the figures don't look good, there's a sense of huge fatigue among the population looking at these figures rising again.

"But the vaccinations are giving real protections to the most vulnerable".

He was also speaking after the Beacon Hospital in Dublin gave vaccines to private school teachers.

The private hospital is currently being used as a hub to vaccinate frontline healthcare workers.

Dr Henry said: "We don't micro-manage each hospital or vaccination centre - but we've given very clear guidance, first of all, on the prioritisation list.

"And we know that some people don't turn up, we know that the way the vials are that there's multiple doses in each vile, that it may not conform exactly to the number that will turn up on that particular day.

"We give very clear guidance to vaccination centres to have reserve lists at the ready of people in order of sequence: that is to say reserve lists of frontline healthcare workers or reserve lists of the next sequence down."

"But at all times to observe those gradients of groups".

Priority list 'quite tricky'

Dr Henry said they are currently working through the priority list of "200,000 or more" people at high-risk.

It was suggested communication to the public, and specifically people who may be on that list, is poor.

Dr Henry claimed: "The list is quite tricky, complicated because it talks about specific criteria.

"For example, in kidney disease or cancer disease, it talks about specific therapies, specific measurements that pertain to severity of kidney disease and so on.

"And that's why we're working in the first instance with our hospital system - who are best placed to identify patients, to schedule them and to vaccinate them".

Dr Henry said they met advocacy groups "only a couple of nights ago".

"I can't tell you how many communications we've replied to, either individually or through public representatives.

"And we met the advocacy groups only a couple of nights ago from many different organisations... explaining this group, explaining what we're doing.

"It's continuous communication we have with the advocacy groups".

Coronavirus figures 'don't look good, but we're not back to square one' - Henry

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Dr Colm Henry, Chief Clinical Officer for the HSE, at Dr Steevens’ Hospital for a weekly HSE update on the response to COVID-19 in February 2021. Picture by: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

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Beacon Hospital Coronavirus Infections Dr Colm Henry Hse Lunchtime Live Priority List Vaccination Vaccines

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