HSE CEO Paul Reid said "it's not really true" that an increase in ICU bed capacity would improve the current COVID situation.
Yesterday there were 503 COVID patients in hospital, with 101 in ICU.
This morning Reid said he expects hospital numbers to "most likely grow" in the coming weeks. He pointed to the "significant pressure" hospitals are experiencing with COVID and the beginnings of a flu season.
"Inevitably with Covid, it’s here with us for some time," he said. "There will be hospitalisations, there will sadly be ICU [admissions], and even more sadly there will be mortalities."
Reid mentioned how there has been "much debate if we just increase ICU beds it will be better … but that’s not really true."
"There’s a level to which you can increase your ICU capacity and have that constrained by Covid," he said. "Any one number of Covid has a disproportionate impact on hospitals. When we say 500 people in hospital, the impact is significantly more than 500 people in hospital … we end up having to close some wards and isolate some individuals."
Yesterday Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan admitted there was a need for more beds but he would prefer the public to follow the guidelines to avoid hospitalisation.
"If our response to this pandemic was to build enough ICU beds and enough mortuary space to cope with the severe effects of this infection, I don’t think we would be serving the public well in terms of the advice and guidance we’re giving when the measures that people can take to protect themselves in many situations are relatively straightforward," he said.