Plans to ramp up Covid-19 testing to 100,000 tests a week

HSE chief Paul Reid has confirmed plans are being made to ramp up testing for Covid-19 to 100,000 tests a week.
Plans to ramp up Covid-19 testing to 100,000 tests a week

HSE chief Paul Reid has confirmed plans are being made to ramp up testing for Covid-19 to 100,000 tests a week.

He also said the deadly virus would be with the health system at least until next year and there was a need to plan for non-virus services for patients.

The “war-like response” by services would need be adapted to ensure other services are kept going, the HSE CEO explained.

His comments come after reported tensions between the HSE and emergency authorities over orders to hike up testing levels, which are currently at 10,000 a day. However, only 1,500 are coming through GPS.

Mr Reid confirmed there were “constructive” tensions between the HSE and Department of Health over the plan to hike up test numbers. This has now been agreed and a draft plan will go to the government later this week.

It is expected that the 100,000 weekly test rate will be reached by the third week in May, Mr Reid said.

The government says that decisions to fight the virus will need to be made in real time and wants results turned around in 48 hours or less.

Mr Reid also said nursing homes were getting the greatest levels of support when it came to testing, protective equipment and general resources.

Of 37,000 tests done last week, 20,000 were done on patients or residents in long terms care.

Nonetheless, the HSE has a list of nursing homes worst impacted by the virus. There are 75 considered 'red' or facing the biggest problems with outbreaks.

Anne O’Connor, chief operations officer at the HSE, said: “Our preference is to support the nursing homes to continue to provide care.

“It is very important that we seek to support the nursing home to provide care.

“The nursing home is a person’s home, they should only be moved on the basis of clinical need.”

Mr Reid also revealed that there needs to be a doubling of personal protective equipment sources, after a €208m order from China.

Another one for between €150m and €200m is being finalised. This in particular to source masks for healthcare settings, with an estimated 7 million a week now needed.

- additional reporting by Press Association

    The current restrictions started on Friday, March 27. They mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice physical distancing

HSE chief: 'We need to build for the longer model, not just a wartime response to Covid-19'

By Press Association

The Health Service Executive (HSE) chief Paul Reid said systems which had been established for three to six months would now be needed for a much longer period, perhaps into next year.

“We need to build for the longer model, not just a wartime response to Covid-19, to protect everybody.”

He said the executive would need to scale up and down the response as necessary depending on how the disease progresses. He said it was building an indigenous supply of PPE although overseas orders were set to double in the short term.

The chief executive said there was an opportunity to stimulate the economy over the next couple of years instead of ordering from China.

“Much of the firefighting approach we have had to put in place now, we need a much more strategic approach,” he said, adding: “We need to look forward in a very different way.”

He also called for the breaking down of health service bureaucracy.

Mr Reid said Ireland would have to build a new model of care and national infrastructure and move away from the current wartime-style footing.

We need a new model that supports the country in the future in terms of pandemics.

He said that included new sustainable processes for contact tracing cases of the virus and the supply of protective equipment.

“We are going to have to break down levels of bureaucracy,” he said.

He added: “I am talking about this year and the following year because Covid-19 is going to be with us.”

He said Ireland could not go back to traditional models and practices of care, adding: “This is a new vision, a new future, this is a new lens we are going to look through in the future.”

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