HSE chief says phase is advancing to perilous position

Almost half of Covid-19 patients that need to be moved to intensive care units are aged under 65 as the hospital system remains under significant pressure.

Health Service Executive CEO Paul Reid said there are 1,965 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals, with 219 of these in ICUs.

Speaking on RTÉ’s News at One, he said there are a total of 318 people in ICUs, leaving 26 adult ICU beds free

“The phase is advancing into an extremely perilous position for us”, he said.

Mr Reid said that “once we get to the 350 figure it will be more challenging to provide the same levels of care.” 

He said patients were moved from the west of the country to the east last night as part of the national surge plan.

Mr Reid said the number of hospitalisations is “holding” at around 1,950, but they expect the admissions to ICU to continue grow.

Latest coronavirus stories

He said where any hospital has utilised all its ICU and surge capacity the next step is to transfer patients to a local hospital within their group, but where that is not possible patients will be transferred to a hospital not in the group. 

Mr Reid said there have been 2,700 hospitalisations over the past two weeks and 163 of these patients would have advanced to ICU.

He said of the patients moved to ICU, two were in the 0-18 age group; six were in the 19-34 age group; 85 were in the 35-64 group while 70 were in the 65-plus age group.

Mr Reid said Covid-19 does not discriminate and it “certainly doesn’t spare young people either”. 

Mr Reid said supply is the only limiting factor to the vaccination programme, but to date over 73,000 frontline healthcare workers have received the vaccine. 

On testing and tracing, he said close contacts of a positive case are still not being tested because the numbers are still too high. 

He said it is more important now that people assume they are close contacts and adhere to the public health guidelines.