Christmas will not be cancelled, says top HSE officer

When asked if Christmas would have to be cancelled, Dr Henry said 'it should never be cancelled, but it will be in a different way.'
Christmas will not be cancelled, says top HSE officer

Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry: “We can’t rely on intensive care beds as a line of defence. The only way to prevent spread of the virus was to limit contacts." Picture: Leon Farrell / Photocall Ireland

The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry, has said Christmas will not be cancelled in 2020 but it will be different. 

Dr Henry has also warned that more intensive care beds are not the solution to the spread of Covid-19. 

Speaking to Newstalk, Dr Henry said: “We can’t rely on intensive care beds as a line of defence. The only way to prevent spread of the virus was to limit contacts.

Dr Henry said that this message has become more important in recent weeks and that people needed to reduce their contacts and to manage their contacts. 

“We need to reduce any opportunity to catch it.

"You need to assume you have the virus in terms of your social contacts.” 

Dr Henry said that while there was the aim to double the number of ICU beds, that alone would not prevent community transfer which was the problem. 

He said: “Yes, we absolutely need more beds, they were at a miserable 225 and we’re at 278 beds now.” 

"Trained staff and the availability of specialist equipment such as ventilators were what had led to a 79 per cent recovery rate earlier this year."

When asked if Christmas would have to be cancelled, Dr Henry said: “it should never be cancelled, but it will be in a different way.” 

The National Clinical Advisor and Programme Lead for Acute Hospitals acknowledged that there had been some delays in the arrival of the flu vaccine, but further batches were due to arrive soon and Dr Henry believed there would be sufficient quantities.

He said: "The health service is looking ahead to winter and planning for an increase in respiratory illnesses that could mimic Covid-19. They were carrying out a modelling process at present."

The testing capacity of 100,000 was not a target and he believed it was sufficient at present.

"It was unfortunate, but the country learned the hard way, that the message was the need to keep distance. 

"That was the only way to protect everyone and each other," he added.

Dr Henry also said that the HSE would be keeping a close eye on a number of counties that are showing worrying Covid-19 increases.

He said that the HSE had been monitoring the two-day incidence rates of Covid-19 in Waterford, Limerick, Kildare, Leitrim, Donegal and Offaly.

He said: "The patterns there are somewhat different, but there’s still that worrying escalation level of community transmission, that is to say, cases out there on the streets that we can’t link to any known Chaim of transmission."

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