A Dublin hotel and conference centre has become the first of a series of coronavirus centres for isolation and step-down care in Ireland.
The hotel part of the Citywest complex will provide beds for 750 people who are unable to self-isolate due to the nature of their own living arrangements. It will open at the end of the week.
Meanwhile, the Citywest conference centre is being turned into a step-down care facility for patients who are recovering from the infection.
The 450 beds earmarked for the facility will only be used once capacity in hospital settings has been exceeded. It will start operating, if needed, in two or three weeks' time.
Similar isolation and step-down facilities will be opened in Cork, Limerick and Galway.
Senior HSE officials announced the moves at the Citywest centre yesterday.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said it was important to plan for the worst-case scenario. "We have to be prepared," he said.
The new centres are part of a ramping-up of preparations across the healthcare sector for the anticipated surge in coronavirus cases.
By utilising private hospital facilities and securing additional equipment, the HSE is set to double the number of critical care beds from 250 to 500.
As of yesterday morning, 88 patients with Covid-19 were in an ICU bed.
However, there are fears that number is likely to soar in the coming weeks.
Mr Reid said about 1,700 additional beds with ventilation support would be available, with plans to increase that number by 100 each week for the next 10 weeks.