'Volatile' | 

Number of people being tested for Covid-19 at ‘alarming level', HSE boss warns

Mr Reid also pleaded with people to “please review New Year plans to keep safe”.

HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid. Photo: Frank McGrath.

Eoghan Moloney

HSE chief Paul Reid has said that the rollout of the vaccination programme will begin a day earlier than planned as some healthcare workers will receive the first dose on Tuesday.

Mr Reid, speaking on RTÉ Radio, said the mobilisation programme for the vaccine is ambitious in that it will do all nursing homes in one “three-week sweep” and then do the same in three weeks later to administer the second dose.

The HSE boss said “safety and efficacy” were the most important factors when it came to deciding the dates for vaccination in nursing homes.

Mr Reid said he was “disappointed” with Medical Council President Rita Doyle’s comments on Twitter yesterday when she criticised the amount of delay in vaccinating people and also the number of vaccines being administered in one day.

“The HSE has people’s wellbeing and safety in mind, just as the Medical Council does,” Mr Reid said, adding that he had received no direct correspondence from Ms Doyle herself.

He added that “no one wants people to start being vaccinated sooner than me.”

Mr Reid said that the current growth in figures is very concerning to the HSE.

He pointed out that while the health service is in a better place that it ever has been heading into January, the “situation is very volatile and we have to protect it”.

He urged the public to really limit their contacts over as the New Year approaches and said “this is the most important thing we can do in the coming days.”

The comes after Mr Reid warned about the “alarming” numbers of people being tested for Covid-19 in recent days.

“Our highest daily tests now at 23,000.

“Community positivity reaching 10pc. Close contacts averaging at five people.

“Tracing calls [have] gone from less than 10K to now over 30K per week.”

Mr Reid also pleaded with people to “please review New Year plans to keep safe”.

All indicators of the disease have continued to deteriorate as 1,296 new cases were confirmed yesterday along with two further deaths.

88,104 people have now contracted coronavirus in Ireland since the pandemic began, and 2,200 have lost their lives to the virus.

According to latest HSE data, there are now 320 people in hospital with Covid-19 this afternoon. There have been 31 people hospitalised with the virus in the last 24 hours.

There are also currently 26 people in ICUs with the virus.

The positivity rate of all tests carried out in the last seven days has risen to 5.3pc.

This comes as the first doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine were delivered to the HSE yesterday morning, with Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirming the first vaccinations will take place on Wednesday.

Ireland received 9,750 doses of the vaccine and is expected to receive an additional 30,000 in early January.

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