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Overcrowding has surged to record levels at University Hospital Limerick where there were 97 patients on trolleys on Tuesday.

221 hospital staff self-isolate due to Covid-19

IN the region of 221 healthcare staff across the UL Hospitals’ Group are self-isolating due to Covid-19 as all routine outpatient appointments and the majority of elective procedures remain cancelled in two public hospitals until Friday, November 20.

The UL Hospitals’ Group has confirmed significant reductions in scheduled care at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and Ennis Hospital have been extended for a further week for patient and staff safety as both hospitals continue to manage a number of outbreaks of Covid-19.

Six wards in UHL were closed to admissions last Friday and a total of 188 staff are currently off work and self-isolating across the group, having either tested positive for Covid-19 or being designated as close contacts.

Outbreak control teams established in both locations continue to work closely with public health and occupational health colleagues and all the relevant HPSC guidance is being followed as we work to contain the virus and to protect patients and staff.

Contact tracing and testing of staff and patients is continuing and we are putting into effect all the appropriate infection control measures to mitigate the risk.

St John’s Hospital, Nenagh Hospital, University Maternity Hospital Limerick and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital continue to operate as normal.

Patients whose procedure or appointment is affected by the cancellations are being contacted directly by the hospital in advance. Affected patients will be rescheduled at the earliest opportunity.

The following services will continue to operate this weekemergency/trauma theatre; cancer and other time-critical surgery; Cancer Day Ward; cancer rapid access clinics; dermatology melanoma clinic; urgent outpatient appointments; dialysis and palliative care

The Emergency Department at UHL continues to operate around the clock for emergency cases. At Ennis Hospital the Injury Unit and Medical Assessment Unit continue to operate. Separate Covid-19 query Covid and non-Covid pathways are in place to keep patients safe.

It has also been confirmed the expected opening date of the new Covid-19 test facility at Ballymaley, Ennis is now November 23rd and not November 16 as originally planned due to some unforeseen circumstances.

The test facility at Cusack Park will remain open and testing continues there until Ballymaley is completed.

Meanewhile, the 14-day incidence rate of the virus continues to slump in Clare.

About five weeks ago, Clare had the fourth highest 14-day incidence rate of the virus in the country with 303 per 100,000 compared to just 77 in Tipperary and 183 in Limerick.

This rate, which had rocketed from about 70% from September 17 to September 30, was very high and was way above the national average of 279%.

However, the 14-day incidence has now fallen in Clare to 111 per 100,000 on November 16, which is well below the national average.

This compares to a rate of 241% in Limerick and 109% in Tipperary. According to figures produced by the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, there were 133 new cases of Covid-19 in Clare, 471 in Limerick and 174 in Tipperary from November 3 to November 16.

Dan Danaher

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