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Coronavirus Ireland 4,642 new Covid cases confirmed as HSE boss appeals to public to reduce ‘risk activities’

Ireland’s 14-day incidence has climbed to more than 950 cases per 100,000 people,

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Health Service Executive chief executive Paul Reid Photo: Photocall Ireland/PA.

Health Service Executive chief executive Paul Reid Photo: Photocall Ireland/PA.

Health Service Executive chief executive Paul Reid Photo: Photocall Ireland/PA.

There have been 4,642 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) this afternoon.

There are 556 people in hospital with the virus as of this morning, of whom 107 are in ICU. Another 15 people have been admitted to ICU with the virus in the past 24 hours.

These figures represent the most people in hospital with the virus since February 26 and the most in ICU with Covid-19 since March 3.

Earlier today, HSE chief Paul Reid urged people to immediately reduce the amount of risky activities they are undertaking in an effort to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Mr Reid said the virus is now “prolific” in most communities in the country.

There are currently 16 free adult ICU beds in the entire country, with 19 of Ireland’s 28 hospitals having no free ICU beds. There are no free paediatric ICU beds in the country, according to the latest HSE operations update on Friday.

“556 Covid-19 patients in hospital, 250 receiving enhanced respiratory supports and 95 (now 107) in ICU,” Mr Reid posted on Twitter this morning.

“The virus is now prolific in most communities and nobody wants to be the next hospitalised case. An immediate reduction by all of us of risk activities is needed to turn this around.”

This comes as Ireland recorded 5,483 cases on Friday, the fifth-highest ever daily case toll.

Ireland’s 14-day incidence has climbed to more than 950 cases per 100,000 people, meaning close to 1pc of the entire population has tested positive for the virus in the last 14 days.

“This is another indication of the very significant increase in the incidence of disease in almost all age-groups across the population,” chief medical officer, Dr Tony Holohan said.

In a letter to the health minister this week, Nphet advised that people who can work from home should do so once again, in a bid to slow the spread of the virus.

The health officials also called for increased mask wearing in settings such as large outdoor gatherings like matches and concerts and also advised for the increased use of Covid passes outside of the hospitality sector.

Nphet did not specify the sectors in which these should be used, but Dr Holohan indicated support for their use in settings such as gyms and barbers/hairdressers at the Nphet briefing this week and said nothing was stopping these businesses from doing so.

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Meanwhile HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said the healthcare system cannot withstand the sustained level of case numbers Ireland is currently experiencing.

“I would love to give assurances that our hospital system and healthcare system can withstand the kind of numbers that we’re seeing now in a sustained way, but it can’t. No healthcare system can. We’ve seen this throughout surges. We’re seeing this right now across Europe. No healthcare system could be designed around massive surges in cases that would cause it to collapse,” Dr Henry told Katie Hannon on RTÉ Radio.

Dr Henry said that we all have the power to control the spread of the virus at an individual level and this plays through into how outbreaks occur.

“Reduce your social contacts and if that means working from home, if that’s possible, then absolutely,” Dr Henry said.

Dr Henry said that antigen testing will be used as an “extra layer” now that virus levels are so high in the community.

He reiterated Nphet’s message that if you are engaging in “high-risk” activities such as going to nightclubs, maybe use an antigen test before you go and if it returns a positive result, “isolate immediately and seek a PCR test”.

Dr Henry said health officials are finalising plans for the use of antigen tests for close contacts of confirmed cases in primary schools.

“In limited, specific circumstances, antigen testing may add value in school settings. Again, I would appeal to the more fundamental message that symptomatic children should stay away from school.

“In specific circumstances, we’ve seen this in some countries, if there is a positive case, then the pod will be provided with antigen tests in order to allow them to stay in school if they’re asymptomatic,” Dr Henry said.

Dr Henry also said he could “see the sense and rationale” in extending the Covid passes to other sectors of society as they have been shown to be an effective measure in reducing transmission.

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