The Chief Executive of the HSE has said that the hospital system is not overwhelmed at this stage but Covid-19 cases are having an impact.

Speaking at a HSE briefing, Paul Reid said there are 121 coronavirus cases in hospital across the country and 22 people are in ICU.

He said both numbers continue to rise.

Mr Reid said four Dublin hospitals account for over 65% of hospitalised cases.

He said that they do understand the growing frustration among the public as we continue to live with continued uncertainty.

He said they can definitely sense a relentless demand to find a new magic strategy to deal with the virus.

Mr Reid made a special plea to the public to deter from blaming certain sectors of the economy or certain elements of society in terms of the spread of the virus.

He said many people would want to identify the source of transmission as a means of stopping the virus in the community.

Mr Reid said we have all seen the blame in the past move from transport, to meat plants, to Direct Provision Centres and recently to schools and young people.

But he said that does nothing other than to add to stigma to some quarters.

He said the reality is the virus is rapidly spread in the community as we meet and then transfers rapidly like wildfire into our homes.

He said the best defence for all of us is to recognise and take personal responsibility and stop the spread within our homes and the community. He said if we do this we can bring the current levels down.

Mr Reid said in the seven days up to the 29 September there were 2,315 new cases notified, up almost 20% on the previous week.

In the cases notified over the past 14 days, 24% were aged between 15-24 years of age,10% of cases were in children aged 0-14 and 10% were in people aged over 65 and 56% were aged 25-64.

He said the positivity rate for last week was 2.9%, the highest positivity rate since the middle of May.

Discussing testing and tracing, Mr Reid said that the mean end-to-end turnaround time from GP referral to completion of contact tracing is two days.

He said the average time it took for a person to get a result after getting tested last week was 28 hours.

Last week, he said 93,300 swab tests, 87,390 lab tests and 15,780 contact tracing calls were carried out.

On enhanced retrospective contact tracing, Mr Reid said the speed of contact tracing is the priority.

He said 56,000 tests were carried out in the community and almost 19,000 were taken in hospitals.

Around 18,500 were carried out as part of serial testing of staff in meat and food plants residential facilities and residents of Direct Provision Centres.

He said over 90% of people referred got their appointment in less than 24 hours.

Mr Reid said they are experiencing increased times to complete all contact tracing calls. He said there has been an increase in the number of calls and an increase of 4,500 calls "week on week".

He said calls are becoming more complex and contact tracers are increasingly met with a lot of frustration as they contact close contacts of a confirmed case.

He said incorrect phone numbers and contact details being provided also results in multiple calls having to be made.

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Also speaking at the briefing, the HSE's Chief Operations Officer said emergency department attendances have dropped by 7.5% since last week and admissions are down by 5.6% for the same period.

Anne O'Connor said the trolley count over the past seven days is 142.

She said the HSE are maintaining a significant low trolley count and vacant beds are up to 415, which shows that sites are still busy.

Ms O'Connor said they are continuing to discharge people for transitional care.

She said the self-isolation facility is continuing in Citywest and that there are 99 healthcare workers and 31 people are currently resident there.