I thank the Chairman and members for the invitation to appear before the committee. I am joined by my colleagues from the HSE, Dr. Colm Henry, chief clinical officer, Ms Anne O'Connor, chief operations officer, and Ms Niamh O'Beirne, lead on testing and tracing.
Over the past few recent months, we have been focused on restoring various aspects of our health services that had to be suspended in the early phases of Covid-19. We have also been finalising plans to protect our patients, the public and our staff this coming winter and throughout 2021. As we have recently seen, we need continuously to assess these plans as we experience increased numbers of cases of the virus, major outbreaks and a requirement for significant serial testing, along with increased demands on testing and tracing. In the past 14 days, there have been 1,269 confirmed cases. For context, the equivalent number for the same two weeks in July was 264.
In respect of testing and contact tracing, the committee has requested specific engagement on the State's response to the recent spike in Covid-19 cases. In the past two weeks, we have triggered our resourcing escalation plan for testing and tracing. Serial testing is ongoing in meat and food processing plants and we have reintroduced serial testing programmes in nursing homes and long-term care settings for older people.
I wish to inform the committee of the current circumstances regarding testing and tracing. To date, we have completed more than 750,000 tests. Last week, we recorded our highest weekly number of tests since April, at 55,000, and we are recording similarly high numbers again this week. The previous weekly peak was in April, when we tested 60,000. The median end-to-end turnaround time over the past seven days is 2.2 days. Last week, we completed 4,949 contact tracing calls. These statistics give the committee a sense of the numbers we are contending with and the pace at which we are moving. Setting up these teams is complex and must be understood in the context of our need to make the best use of resources during peaks and troughs of the virus. It is important to re-emphasise that testing and tracing is a key tool to protect against transmission of the virus. However, the primary line of defence is the public health measures we must all take all the time.
We are finalising a new model of testing and tracing to set out a more permanent workforce and implement further processes and technology changes. In respect of outbreaks, testing and tracing works hand in glove with the work of our public health teams. Throughout this pandemic, our public health teams have adopted a rapid, robust and comprehensive response to prevent, identify and control outbreaks where they occur, utilising the best public health knowledge and science available. I pay special tribute to all our public health teams who have been working relentlessly for the past seven months.
The national standing oversight committee on cases and outbreaks of Covid-19 in high-risk settings was established by the HSE on 7 August and includes a broad range of cross-sectoral representation. Criteria for the assessment of meat plant outbreaks, to inform decisions regarding their closure and reopening, have been developed. This utilises a standard public health risk assessment model, emphasising that blanket measures may not be helpful. We have also worked with the Department of Education and Skills on similar criteria for responding to outbreaks in schools, which will be a key focus in the coming weeks and months. While institutional and workplace settings are receiving much attention, our public health departments are also responding to a large number of outbreaks in private households and among family, sporting and social groups. By 22 August, our public health teams had responded to a total of 2,580 outbreaks since the onset of the pandemic.
As for hospitalisations, while there has been an increase in the transmission of the virus, the indications are that our hospitals have not as yet been confronted with a similar increase in admissions. There are currently 23 patients admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and four in ICU, with three currently being ventilated. The lower rate of admission may be attributable to the lower age profile of patients that has characterised the resurgence of the disease in recent months. There is, however, no room for complacency and we have plans in place to deal with a surge in hospitalisations.
We are facing into a very difficult period in our health services. In an ideal world, the elimination of the virus would make our work somewhat more straightforward, but this is not our reality. We must live with this virus in a very new way and this requires a carefully balanced approach. The health services need a functioning economy and society. Shutting down the economy and society has implications for our health services.
Finally, I again pay special thanks to everyone working in healthcare. We have witnessed much of what is great about the people who work in it. We all now need to support them again.