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Coronavirus test backlog to be cleared this week, says HSE chief

  • Total of 7,903 backlogged Covid-19 tests were completed by last Saturday

  • A sum of 72,000 Coronvirus tests have been completed overall

  • More than 120 Covid-19 patients in ICU

  • Second order of PPE valued at €67m to be ordered this week


Irish Health Service Executive chief Paul Reid (PA)

Irish Health Service Executive chief Paul Reid (PA)

Irish Health Service Executive chief Paul Reid (PA)

A backlog of 11,000 Covid-19 tests is expected to be cleared throughout this week as more than 7,500 tests were completed by last Saturday, HSE chief Paul Reid has said.

At a HSE briefing this morning, Mr Reid said that a total of 7,903 backlogged Covid-19 tests were completed by last Saturday, while a total of 72,000 Coronvirus tests have been completed since the outbreak began.

He said there are now 11,000 backlogged tests but the health service is working to clear it by the end of this week.

Mr Reid said 80pc of the tests will be carried out in German laboratories and 20pc will be carried out in Irish labs, which have the capacity to carry out an average of 2,800 daily tests. That number is expected to fall as the backlog clears.

He added that the turnaround times for completed tests in hospitals are currently between 24 and 36 hours but community tests are experiencing a longer delay.

"If people are in the hospital, and they get a test, you can see that the test will be turned around much quicker because they're in the hospital, and the test is primarily carried out in the hospital," he said.

"So it will be a quicker turnaround. It's a more complex process where it's done under community and that swab test has to be sent off either to one of our other laboratories here or across to our extensive support that we have in our German laboratories."

He said the HSE are still facing a number of “significant uncertainties” over the coming weeks, such as sustaining the support of the German laboratories, the supply of reagents and building up Enfer’s testing capacity.

“There are still significant uncertainties that we are trying to manage through this week,” he said.

“Firstly, sustaining the support that we have from the German laboratories to. We had good discussions with them, very positive discussions with them and we want to continue their supply process to us.

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“The second uncertainty that we'll have to manage over the course of the next few weeks is the continuous supply of reagents, a really global worldwide issue and we have to continue to sustain.

“And finally, building up our capacity also through Enfer, who we brought on board, working with the NVRL (National Virus Reference Laboratory) as well. “

Mr Reid said Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) sent by Chinese resources that were not up to standard has been revised and is currently going through tests.

The second batch of PPE will be ordered on April 17 at the value of €67m and will cover a range of items including, gowns, gloves, facial respiratory masks, and goggles.

He also mentioned that 55,000 tests have been done between the national ambulance service and community testing across the 48 testing centers.

The HSE are on average making around 500 calls to cases each day in its contact tracing efforts, adding that a further 500 calls are made to define who confirmed cases' contacts could be, and some 800 calls per day are made based on the contact tracing.

Around 800 people are waiting to be tested either have or are awaiting appointments.

He added that the HSE is on average receiving around 220 to visits to its website each day.

That figure peaked for one day with over 850,000 at the start of the process.

The HSE has received around 35,000 calls at peak to its live line across its seven centers. and had 700,000 contacts through social media.

It is now at a demand level of around 1,200 calls per day over the past week.

"The demand levels are down, and our capacity has really risen, which demonstrates why we'll be in a better position this week to meet the demand," he said.

He said "it would be wrong" to say Ireland has hit the peak and cannot predict when it will.

Ann O'Connor, HSE chief operations officer, said 128 referrals have been made to the City West isolation unit to date, which currently has 69 residents.

A sum of 862 Covid-19 patients are in the care of acute hospitals as of 8 pm last night, an increase of 8.5 pc on the previous week.

Over 2,000 beds are available in our acute hospitals.

As of now, 275 people are in ICU's across the country - 148 people admitted with Covid-19, and 127 are non-Covid-19 related patients.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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