HSE chief executive Paul Reid called the news a “great relief for patients, public and staff”.

The CEO of the HSE has said eight adult hospitals and three children’s hospitals have no Covid-19 patients today.

Tweeting out the news, Paul Reid said St James’s (Dublin), Naas, Tullamore, Sligo, Galway, Kilkenny, Mercy (Cork), Waterford, Temple Street, Crumlin and Tallaght had no cases to report in the hospital.

The news comes after yesterday’s Covid-19 figures revealed there were only 59 patients in hospital with the virus throughout the country, down from a ‘third-wave’ peak in in January of 2,020 people.

23 people are currently in ICU in Ireland.

Speaking to Newstalk, Reid said the HSE were in favour of using rapid antigen testing to combat a resurgence of Covid-19, contrary to the recommendations of Chief medical officer Dr. Tony Holohan.

“Certainly from a HSE perspective we want to be facilitating, supporting and advising use of antigen testing by any sectors or any kind of industry. And that’s what we do,” he said on The Pat Kenny Show.

“So for example, from our perspective we will use antigen testing and have used antigen testing in some outbreaks in hospitals. We are working very closely with the third level sector… for pilots.

“And we have supported the Department of Agriculture – about 40,000 tests in meat plants in particular.

“They are part of a solution, and all throughout Covid everybody is always trying to find a silver bullet. So we see them as part of the solution.

“But the one thing I will say is, the one thing we do also have, thankfully here in Ireland, a really strong capacity for PCR. So for example in an outbreak in a hospital, we have a very significant capacity to utilise PCR and a very quick turnaround on it. We will use antigen on some occasions, but we also have PCR as well,” he said.

Commenting on NPHET’s condemnation of the sale of antigen tests, Reid said their advice had been “strong” and “consistent” throughout the pandemic, and that their advice against using antigen tests had to be taken in context.

“But certainly on this one the debate does seem to be polarised and we all need to acknowledge a way through,” he said.