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HSE briefing: 'Capacity exists for surge' as revealed 794 being treated for Covid-19 in hospitals

The HSE have said 794 people are currently in hospital being treated for Covid-19.

142 of the 794 patients are being treated in intensive care units (ICU).

HSE Chief Operations Officer Anne O'Connor said the capacity is in place to cope with any surge in cases.

She said: "We still have 2,562 vacant beds, even though we are seeing numbers grow, our capacity in our hospital system, and that doesn't take into account the private system, is still very significant and we still have a lot of capacity."

"We also still have 109 critical care beds, that we can use immediately and we have a surge plan, for critical care, within the public system alone, that would see us go up to 800 [beds]."

1,100 ventilators in Ireland with 250 more expected for hospitals this week

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said there are currently 1,100 ventilators in Ireland.

In an online briefing today, Mr Reid also more ventilators had been secured and are being tested, with 250 expected to be delivered to hospitals this week.

His comments came as Dr.Catherine Motherway, the President of the Intensive Care Society, warned that intensive care units (ICU) can only guarantee space if the rate of Covid-19 infection continues to fall.

158 people are now being treated in ICUs across the country, with units in Dublin said to be under the most pressure.

This news comes as the NHS in the UK sadi it was also assessing its own ventilator capacity.

The UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock warned that the UK health service may not reach full ventilator capacity before the peak of the coronavirus.

He said that the health authorities expect the peak of the coronavirus outbreak will hit within a week to 10 days.

65% of new PPE suitable for direct use, 15% for substitute use and 20% unsuitable

80% of personal protective equipment (PPE) received from China this week as apart of a €200m order was suitable for distribution among staff.

65% was immediately distributed for use after examination while 15% was identified as a substitute for some equipment.

In an online briefing this morning, HSE CEO Paul Reid said the remaining 20% of personal protective equipment that has arrived in Ireland so far is not suitable for general healthcare use.

Millions of euro worth of PPE has already been flown here from China for use by medical staff.

The HSE insisted some of the 20% of equipment not suitable could be used for other purposes, such as in isolation facilities.

CEO Paul Reid said they have tried to make sure this does not happen again.

He said: "We have been in discussions with the supplier, we don't want any further delivery of this kit in the next orders.

"We want the required specification that we have set out and we have had discussions with them this week,

"And we are expecting to see some samples, with the revised specifications, sent to us."

Concerns were also raised about the increase in nursing home infections from 14 clusters to 40 and the capacity of intensive care units (ICU) to treat patients.

Target is to test 4,500 Covid-19 cases from next week

The HSE said they will be in position from next week to test 4,500 cases per day.

This is an increase from 1,500 cases tested per day the previous week.

HSE Paul Reid said that steps have been taken also to secure supply chains for the new laboratory testing centres.

The supply of reagents will be critical to carry out this level of testing according to the HSE.

The HSE held an online press briefing today amid the Covid-19 outbreak due to social distancing measures.

Journalists were not present and questions were submitted by text message.

More to follow as we get it ...