THERE ARE currently no Covid-19 PCR test appointments available in 15 counties across Ireland as cases continue to increase.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were no appointments available in Carlow, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Meath, Sligo, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford and Wicklow.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland on Wednesday Damian McCallion, who leads the HSE's test and trace system, said every step is being taken to identify measures to ease the pressure on the health service.
“We've been continuing to recruit right through this, that has never stopped," he said. "We have identified measures with the private sector that have helped to bolster capacity.
"But ultimately when you're in a wave, like we're in at the moment, where the demand is so significant right across the health care system, there will always be constraints on resources whether that's ICU, general practice, testing."
He said over one million PCR tests have been carried out in the last "six to seven weeks" and that currently 200,000 tests are being carried out despite 100,000 originally being seen as the "gold standard".
PCR tests are currently being prioritised for acute hospitals, clinical referrals and contact tracing, leading to the lack of appointments available for self-referrals.
The Department of Health recorded 5,634 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, with 684 people in hospital with the virus, an increase of 16.
This morning, HSE CEO Paul Reid told the Oireachtas Health Committee that the winter season presents additional challenges to health systems, but these pressures are now “compounded by the massive increase in Covid-19 infections we are currently experiencing”.
He also described the scale of people being tested for Covid-19 in Ireland as "phenomenal", while acknowledging the delays in test availability during as a result of demand, and called on people to restrict their movements if they have symptoms.
Speaking on Today with Claire Byrne, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn also said if there is further disimprovement in the trajectory of the disease, then NPHET will have to make recommendations to address those concerns.
“We do have a pandemic that’s out of control in this country at the moment," he said. "There’s no getting away from that. And that’s the situation across every country in Europe at the moment."
“We’ll just have to see where we are in a week/10 days time and, if necessary, provide further advice at that point,” he said.