Not time to "hit the red panic button", says HSE chief Paul Reid 1 month ago

Not time to "hit the red panic button", says HSE chief Paul Reid

Conflicting opinions ahead of Tuesday's announcement...

HSE chief Paul Reid has said there isn't "a need to hit the red panic button" in relation to the rising cases of Covid-19 currently being seen across Ireland.

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The National Public Health and Emergency Team is set to meet on Monday in order to review the spike in cases, with next Friday's scheduled lifting of all remaining restrictions now in considerable doubt.

A subsequent decision will be announced to the public on Tuesday.

Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 on Friday morning (15 October), Reid sounded a note of optimism while hailing the effectiveness of Ireland's vaccination rollout.

"We're at a much different place than we would have been if we're talking about 2,000 cases at a different stage in this year," Reid began. "Vaccines are working. They are proving very effective for those who have been vaccinated.

"I would see what's been happening over the past week or so as not a panic button, not a need to hit the red panic button, but a significant early warning of a number of interventions that we need to be conscious of where we've seen a huge swing in cases that were declining to a swing of very high positivity levels growing and numbers of cases growing every day.

"But, in summary to your question, vaccines are working and are protecting those who have been vaccinated from hospitalisations, illness and mortality," Reid added.

Asked if the efficacy of the vaccine is on the wane, Reid responded:

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"From all the analysis and all of the evidence that we are seeing – in terms of hospitalisations, illness and particularly ICU, it's a huge distortion for those people who are unvaccinated representing the numbers that are in ICUs.

"So right now, today, about 67% of the people in our ICU are unvaccinated – so, hugely disproportionate when you think that there's just about 8% of the adult population not fully vaccinated. Similarly in our hospitals; they represent a significant proportion – about 40% of people in hospital not vaccinated.

"You're about 17 times more likely to be hospitalised if you have not been vaccinated," he concluded.

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Reid's comments present a certain degree of conflict in line with previous statements made by government officials over the last 24 hours.

On one hand, they echo Tánaiste Leo Varadkar's sentiment that if everybody in Ireland was fully vaccinated, there would be "no question" about the lifting of restrictions.

On the other, Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris has signalled the potential for certain restrictions to remain in place for a little while longer.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Friday, Harris discussed three specific approaches that concern the public going forward.

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"I think we have to move away from thinking that there's a binary choice when it comes to Covid and reopening," Harris began. "Is it a yes and a no, is it a proceed, is it not? I think there is now a third way.

"I think the three choices facing government – and we'll have to consult public health experts, NPHET will meet on Monday, the decision will be Tuesday – but I think there are three genuine options to consider and scrutinise:

"Proceed, pause, or proceed while retaining some safeguards."

Featured Image via Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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