‘The best support we can all now give, is to avoid getting sick with Covid,’ Paul Reid says

The health system is under increasing strain the head of the HSE has said as the number of patients with Covid-19 in the States hospitals has increased by more than 100 in the past day.
There are more than 1,421 patients with Covid-19 being treated in hospital with Covid-19 including 121 in ICU, the latest figures show. There were 136 Covid-19 admissions to hospital and 17 to ICU in the past day.
Our health system is under increasing strain.The best support we can all now give, is to avoid getting sick with Covid.This will help to get us out the other side of this, HSE chief executive Paul Reid tweeted on Sunday.
HSE chief clinical officer Dr Colm Henry said while there was still capacity in the acute hospital system, the fear was what happens if cases continue to rise with peak in the distance.
Speaking to Brendan OConnor on RTE Radio on Sunday, Dr Henry said a deal with the private hospitals was all but concluded which would allow that system to be on standby.
But he said increasing cases was not just a matter of Covid-19 numbers in hospital but it was also the disruptive impact it had on the health system, in terms of secondary level of transmission, beds lost due to infection control and staff unable to go to work due to contracting the virus or being close contacts.
He said people who are going to be hospitalised and die in coming days have already contracted the virus. However he said the scary projections over the coming weeks can be stopped if people act. If you dont meet people you wont pass the virus on, he said.
There were 4,842 new cases of Covid-19 and nine further deaths reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) on Saturday.
The 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 per 100,000 population nationally is 1,162. This means more than one in 100 people in the State have had a positive test in the past fortnight.
The incidence rate is over 2,000 per 100,000 in Monaghan and Louth and over 1,000 in 13 counties (Limerick, Waterford, Cavan, Dublin, Donegal, Cork, Clare, Wexford, Mayo, Carlow, Sligo, Meath, Kilkenny)
On Saturday Dr Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory said the three cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 discovered in Ireland have been contained,
They have been contained, they have been controlled, they have been contact traced, and to the best of my knowledge at this stage, there was no onward transmission, he told RTÉ Radio Ones Saturday with Katie Hannon.
However, Dr de Gascun said the variant remains a concern because its mutations could impact on how the vaccines work, but he added that this was a theoretical risk at this point in time.
Dr de Gascun, a member of Nphet, urged anyone with travel exposure to South Africa in the last 28 days to come forward and make themselves known.
Nphet announced on Friday that three cases of the South African variant of Covid-19 have been detected for the first time in Ireland. All were associated with recent travel. Nphet appealed for healthcare workers who travelled from South Africa to self-isolate for 14 days.
The South African strain emerged in August in South Africas eastern Cape region, before spreading to other provinces as infections accelerated in recent weeks.
The new variant has been linked to the surge in Covid cases in South Africa and health experts fear that it is not only more infectious than previous forms of the virus but could make some vaccines less effective.
Minister of State for Health Mary Butler described the trajectory of infections as extremely serious.
The current situation is extremely serious. Every day we see figures increasing at an exponential rate and they are always worse than the previous day. But everything that can possibly be done is being done, she said.
Health sources said that hospitals were preparing to use ventilators outside intensive care units if the ICUs reach capacity in the next week. The health service has about 400 ICU beds but has access to about 1,800 ventilators.
Ministers and senior officials say next week will see the most severe test of the health service since the pandemic began as a proportion of the very high numbers of positive cases reported since Christmas will become seriously ill and require hospital care.