Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

12.43 29 Mar 2020


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The HSE has confirmed there are 88 people in intensive care due to coronavirus but no hospital has reached its ICU capacity.

Over 2,400 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ireland, however, up to 80% of cases do not need hospitalisation.

The Department of Health confirmed yesterday that a further 14 people diagnosed with COVID-19 have died.

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That brings the total number of people who have passed away from contracting the virus since the outbreak began in the Republic to 36.

The HSE held a COVID-19 media briefing at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin today, with the venue due to be turned into an isolation centre for people who cannot do so elsewhere.

The adjoining conference centre will also become a step-down facility for people who contracted coronavirus but who no longer require critical care.

Health officials in attendance include Paul Reid, the CEO of the HSE, Chief Operations Officer of the HSE, Anne O'Connor, and HSE Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry.

Ms O'Connor said that since March 16th, 33,000 tests have been carried out, with 16,000 referrals since the testing criteria changed last week.

Tests were being carried out by a rate of 5,000 a day, she said.

ICU capacity

88 people are in intensive care due to coronavirus, with the majority of these in Dublin hospitals.

Regarding intensive care capacity, Ms O'Connor said that there are over 2,100 acute beds available, and 167 critical care beds.

"We still have capacity available in our acute system, our priority is to be able to scale up the very acute end.

"Scaling up the capacity" of ICUs includes adding more ventilators into the system, she said.

Ms O'Connor said new clinical hubs will also be set up this week to help those with COVID-19 symptoms.

She said: "We are aiming this week to have one in each of our nine community health organisations.

"These will be clinical centres for people who are unwell, who feel they are becoming sicker.

"They will be staffed with GPs, nurses and other health professionals."

Ms O'Connor added: "The idea is that people will be able to go there by referral...they will be referred by their GP or elsewhere to attend for a clinical assessment."

HSE operations

Meanwhile, Paul Reid said the most pressing issue facing the HSE this week had been the procurement of a "very significant delivery" of personal protective equipment for health workers.

The first flight carrying almost €30m worth of PPE is due to arrive in Dublin Aiport today.

He said the normal annual cost of this equipment is €15m, but the total order placed with China now stands at almost €210m.

Mr Reid said over 1,400 people have been trained to carry out contact tracing, with 46 testing centres in operation across the country, and that around 500 health workers have been recruited.

66,500 people have also applied to 'Be On Call for Ireland'.

Main image: The new coronavirus facility at CityWest. Photo: Tom Douglas

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