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HSE orders 300 ventilators as it seeks to ramp up intensive care capacity to treat coronavirus

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04/03/2020 Paul Reid  during a HSE weekly media briefing on Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

04/03/2020 Paul Reid during a HSE weekly media briefing on Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

04/03/2020 Paul Reid during a HSE weekly media briefing on Covid-19 (Coronavirus). Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

THE Health Service is ramping up its Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity in the face of the coronavirus threat, but needs the public to help reduce the pressure on hospitals by helping to battle the spread of the disease.

HSE boss Paul Reid made the comments as he said that the 300 ventilators have been ordered in anticipation of an expected increase in Covid-19 cases requiring hospitalisation and intensive care.

His remarks come after Dr Catherine Motherway of University Hospital Limerick wanted that Ireland's ICU capacity is lower than other countries and is a "significant problem".

“We have a limited amount of beds and we have been working very hard for the last number of weeks to try and increase capacity,” she told RTÉ's Prime Time.

Mr Reid was asked about her remarks and if he's satisfied the hospitals can cope with a surge in cases.

He said issues challenges in terms of beds and ICU capacity can be avoided if the public "relentlessly do everything we're asking".

He listed hand washing, coughing and sneezing etiquette, avoiding touching your face, and keeping social distance.

"That will mean that we can avoid a major surge of sickness and illness over a very short space of time," he said.

In relation to ICU capacity Mr Reid acknowledged "we have started from a low benchmark".

But he said plans have been put in place since January that will "see our ICU capacity majorly ramped up".

He said plans involve using private hospital capacity and purchasing more ventilator machines.

"We've secured 300, immediately, straightaway," he said adding that contracts have been placed for between 80 and 100 to be delivered every week.

"We have a thousand respiratory machines in stock - all of those a part of our clinical care support.

"So we will have significantly ramped up our clinical care capacity in a very short period of time," he said.

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