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'High risk' HSE chief Paul Reid issues stark warning to cancel plans ahead of new lockdown

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HSE CEO Paul Reid (Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland)

HSE CEO Paul Reid (Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland)

HSE CEO Paul Reid (Photograph: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland)

HSE CEO Paul Reid said there is now "an unprecedented and toxic combination of potential scenarios" which have emerged in the battle against Covid-19.

Mr Reid warned of "a massively high level and rapidly growing daily cases" and a "very dangerous level of transmission of the virus".

He added they were now seeing "extreme levels" in terms of the number of people's close contacts.

There has been a rise in the number of people with more than 15 close contacts, and some people have more than 30 close contacts.

It comes in the wake of increased socialising and family gatherings over the Christmas period.

Mr Reid added: "We are seeing much of our worst concerns have now materialised themselves.

“We're all extremely high risk in many parts of the country, the transmission levels are at quite a worrying level across the community. So I call on everybody to really take immediate actions regardless of what decisions are made later by the Government.

“We need everybody to take immediate and urgent reactions. Withdraw from any plans, arrangements, activities we may have had and really do protect yourself.”

Mr Reid said "hospitals are coping" but they will be under increasing pressure in the coming weeks.

As of this morning there were 454 patients in hospital, with 39 in intensive care.

Mr Reid also confirmed almost half of the new cases being seen over the past two weeks are among the 19-44 age groups, and that the number of contact tracing calls have risen by 300pc in the past few weeks.

He said the highest incidence rate per 100,000 people was seen through 19-24 year-olds at 496.1.

Chief Clinical Officer of the HSE Dr Colm Henry said the R number is estimated to be 1.8.

Even if this reduces to 1.4, we will still see 2,000 new cases confirmed per day in mid-January, with hospitalisations estimated to be around 800.

Dr Henry said there was now "widespread community transmission" with a five-day average of over 1,200, adding that we are now "entering a serious phase of escalation of Covid-19 in this country".

He added that the 14-day incidence is 273 and rising across all age groups and that the increases were occurring in all counties.

He said the number of close contacts was now rising daily, and now stands at an average of six per case.

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