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One death, 24 new cases of Covid-19 in Ireland


HSE chief Paul Reid said just 10 Covid-19 patients are in hospital in Ireland (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

HSE chief Paul Reid said just 10 Covid-19 patients are in hospital in Ireland (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

HSE chief Paul Reid said just 10 Covid-19 patients are in hospital in Ireland (Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland/PA)

The lowest number of Covid-19 patients are currently in hospital since the peak, the head of the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.

Paul Reid said there are 10 confirmed positive cases in hospital, with five patients with Covid-19 receiving treatment in intensive care.

The figures show a 96% drop from a peak of 140 people in intensive care in April.

Mr Reid tweeted: "Our thoughts with everyone for a full recovery."

The Department of Health confirmed on Saturday that one person has died from Covid-19 in the last 24 hours.

The health system has been notified of another 24 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Mr Reid also defended the HSE's response and handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Earlier this year, the HSE effectively took over the operation of private hospitals for some three months during the pandemic.

The 100 million euro a month deal has been criticised over claims it has been underutilised and represented poor value for money.

Mr Reid said it is a "fair challenge" that the HSE will be open to scrutiny on.

He told RTE Radio 1 on Saturday: "Picture what we were all seeing across Europe, picture the scenes that we were seeing in Italy, in Lombardy.

"We saw a very frantic hospital system. Now we know that our hospital system here in Ireland, on a good day, works at 95% capacity. If we had had any of the potential surge that Italy had seen, we had to immediately build capacity to take on that issue."

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He said that in planning for the next phase of Covid-19, he will do things differently.

He said: "We are now looking at planning if A, there is another surge, hopefully there isn't; B, if there's kind of regional or local kind of major surges; or C, if there is peaks and troughs of this virus.

"We would see a potential solution. We are in discussions with the private hospital groups that would look at a more agile... where you could dial up some flexibility and dial down.

"We've done a kind of reflection of our learnings from the first phase and I think we're in a stronger position on many fronts."

He said knowledge and stock of PPE is much better, adding the HSE has built up "indigenous Irish industries to give us a bit of resilience".

He added: "I think the morale of staff during Covid has improved. I know it's always fragile, but I think it has improved for a couple of reasons - the public recognition of what was happening."

Asked whether health staff who became infected with Covid-19 will be compensated, he said: "That's a process which we will always look at in terms of where we are putting supports in place for people who have either contracted the virus or equally have just felt the pressure."

Meanwhile, the Department of Education is continuing to work on its plan to reopen schools at the end of August.

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said there are some "final details" to be completed over the weekend.

Minister for Education Norma Foley said she will bring a memo to Cabinet on Monday which will outline details of how schools will reopen.

The Government has said its "top priority" is seeing the return of teachers, pupils and school staff in the new academic year.

Ms Foley described the document as "detailed and comprehensive".

Speaking after she briefed Mr Martin on the plan on Friday, Ms Foley said: "The full and safe reopening of schools is my number one objective as Education Minister.

"The partners in education, including parents, teachers, students, principals and the widest representation, have fully and totally engaged in this process.

"Clarity takes time. I am confident that what I take to Cabinet will be solution-focused, it will be a road-map that everyone can clearly identify with.

"There is no point in bringing anything that is not completed. It's been a long process of work."

Once the document has been approved by Cabinet, the detailed guidance will be sent to schools.

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