The CEO of the Health Service Executive has said trends in the spread of Covid-19 "continue to be a strong concern" for the HSE.

Paul Reid was speaking at a HSE briefing, which heard that as of yesterday evening there were 157 people being treated for Covid-19 in hospital, and 27 people in ICU.

He said that the hospital system is "challenged, but not overwhelmed". He said that some hospitals may have to start deferring or cancelling procedures, and may have to use some of their surge capacity beds.

Yesterday, the Department of Health was notified of five further coronavirus-related deaths, and 611 new cases.

Mr Reid told today's briefing that the number of hospitalisations and ICU admissions of cases of Covid-19 cannot be compared to those seen in the early stages of the pandemic. "… Because we were not delivering all non-urgent and non-Covid services, as we are now," he said.

"Every single hospitalisation that we have to deal with in relation to Covid-19 has a very significant impact on the wider services that we are trying to sustain and provide." 

Mr Reid said that 1.2 million tests have been completed across the island, and that the average turnaround time is 1.9 days. The mean averagef time from swab to result is 27 hours. 

Almost 90,000 tests were completed last week, and 18,000 people have been contacted as part of contact tracing calls.

The briefing also heard that the positivity rate for the past seven days is 3.9%. Although he did caution that there are concerns that it is continuing to rise.

A total of 287 schools have testing that is completed or ongoing according to HSE. 

6,741 staff and students have been identified and are undergoing day zero or day seven testing. 

Of these there were 122 detected cases which is a positivity rate of 1.8%.

Mr Reid says regarding testing at long-term residential facilities and nursing homes, there have been more than 200,000 tests completed overall. 

The HSE is currently on cycle three with 43,500 tests completed across 568 facilities and a positivity rate of 0.32%.

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