Ireland faces €1 billion bill for millions of PPE masks in the fight against Covid-19

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

ppe

Portlaoise hospital wear personal protection eqipment donated

The value of public PPE donations to hospitals in Laois and elsewhere was put into context at the weekend by the HSE chief executive Mr Paul Reid.

He spoke about the cost of the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to the Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise and the many other healthcare facilities around Ireland.

“There are huge drivers of costs for use in the HSE both in terms of PPE and testing and tracing. Our PPE projections based on the high demand and price, the extra volume that we normally use and the extra distribution that we have to supply across the whole health care system.

“Our projections are that that cost will likely be over a year over €1 billion - €250 million a quarter for PPE. Similar costs for the testing and contact tracing. But the costs of not investing in these are much higher in terms of the cost for society of not unlocking the restrictions,” he said.

Mr Reid said the need for masks has gone up because they are now required for all healthcare workers

“That has brought our demand from a daily basis of 200,000 masks per day to over a million masks per day - 1.2 million masks per day.

“So, we need a supply line that gives us supply on almost a weekly basis of almost 9 million masks. ..Every country is chasing these all over the world,” he said.

Mr Reid said supply has been sourced in South Korea through the IDA and other contacts including a call to the President of the Asian country by An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

He expected 120 million masks to be delivered over the coming weeks to Ireland.

To put the amount needed in context, Mr Reid said 9 million masks stacked on top of each other in their pallets, would be 11 times higher than Liberty Hall in Dublin.

Mr Reid said the HSE is aiming to carry out 100,000 tests a week beginning on May 18.