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HSE boss 'cannot dispute' that up to 1.9m may be infected by coronavirus in Ireland


The HSE “cannot dispute” that up to 1.9 million people in Ireland may be infected by the coronavirus.

peaking on RTÉ Radio One, CEO of the HSE Paul Reid said that the health service is working to contain the virus and is putting together “significant plans”.

“The phase we’re in right now is the containment phase, it is the prevention, we are putting together very significant plans.

“Those plans are important and the most appropriate plans for this phase,” he said.

However, he declined to dispute figures reported in today’s Sunday Business Post which state that up to 40pc of the population, or 1.9 million people may contract the coronavirus.

“There’s ranges you’re seeing from 30-50pc and indeed some less and very significant differences in terms of impact.

“We’re working through that right now,” Mr Reid said.

He declined to dispute the reported figures.

“I can’t right now dispute [the figures],” he said.

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Minister for Health Simon Harris pictured in Dublin Airport where he spoke to the media regarding the outbreak and prevention of the Coronavirus in Ireland. Picture; Gerry Mooney

He said that work is being done to take pressure off the acute hospital system and investment has been made for an extra 25 ICU beds.

The CEO added that the ambulance service is now remote testing in people’s homes to take pressure of emergency departments in hospitals.

“The action that we’re taking now is about trying to get the impact reduced and trying to have it spread out over a long period of time,” he said.

When asked if the upcoming St Patrick’s Day parade should be cancelled or not, Mr Reid said that people will still gather regardless.

“Whether the St Patrick’s Day parade happens or doesn’t happen, we still will have concentrated numbers of people in different settings.

The national public Health emergency team are working through recommendations in terms of mass gatherings and that will be a more comprehensive approach and I think it will move it on just from the St Patrick’s Day parade,” he added.

Speaking on the same programme, Sam McConkey, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of International Health said he wasn’t surprised by the figures of 1.9 million as he said he’s been “saying them for weeks”.

“Not just on our health service, I think this is a transformation over society.

“The best metaphor that I can think of is the Spanish flu, mixed up with the Irish civil war, which was 100 years ago, mixed up with the 1929 stock market crash, all mixed up together at the same time,” he said.

“That sounds pretty bad, but this is an all-of society response and requires an all-of government response.”

He said that the coronavirus will have an affect everywhere.

“This is going to impact on every government department and every private industry and every citizen here in a very radical way,” he said.

We’re in coronavirus land, a new world we haven’t been in before and we need to start adapting to that reality, the first thing that we need in that is clear, good governance.”

Online Editors

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