Concern as Covid-19 cases rise in hospitals

A recent aerial view of the Letterkenny University Hospital campus with the new Emergency unit in the foreground (beside car park). Picture: Declan Doherty

A concerning increase in Covid-19 cases have been detected in community hospitals and nursing homes in Donegal over the past number of weeks.
While immunisation levels across the sector are among the highest in the State, Dr Anthony Breslin, Public Health Specialist for Donegal, confirmed that the outbreaks have led to hospital admissions.
He added that a ‘significant’ number of new Covid-19 cases continue to be reported in the county each day.
“We’re seeing between 60 to 100 new cases each day with more in the east than west of the county. We’re also seeing a number of outbreaks in residential facilities like our community hospitals and nursing homes. In general, the numbers are quite small – two, three or four in most cases – but we do have a few facilities where there are larger numbers affected.
“It is concerning but, thankfully, most people aren’t terribly sick and we’re not seeing a lot of hospital admissions,” Dr Breslin said.
As of yesterday morning, there were 408 people in hospital with the virus. Of these, 69 patients with Covid-19 are in intensive care units, two of whom are in Letterkenny University Hospital.
Dr Breslin said the pandemic is not over and “we still have a lot of Covid in the community”, and that despite the high level of vaccinations “it does not mean we can let our guard down”.
“Over 86 per cent of people over 18 in Donegal are now vaccinated which is good. There may be a perception among some members of the public that the pandemic is over but we can’t afford to become complacent at this stage,” he warned.
The Public Health Specialist is urging all healthcare staff to embrace this year’s flu vaccination campaign.
“This winter it is so important to get vaccinated in order to build a robust immune defence in our hospitals and communities against the threat of dual Covid/Influenza infection.
“Flu is a highly infectious illness that affects all age groups and may result in serious disease with poor outcomes for our most vulnerable, particularly the elderly and those with weak immune systems,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Health Service Executive National Lead for Testing and Tracing said the positivity rate for Covid-19 in the community has started to rise. Niamh O’Beirne said the rate is currently at 10 per cent with some counties reporting rates of up to 15 per cent, adding that there has been a change in the trend in the past six or seven days.

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