Only one ICU bed was available in the Midwest region today as public health experts warned that a surge in groundbreaking Covid-19 infections is likely to lead to increased hospital admissions or deaths due to a surge in the virus in the region would.
The Mid-West Department of Health advised people in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary to “limit” their social activities as Covid-19 infection rates in the area have doubled in the past four to five weeks.
A spokesman for the agency warned that “with the current widespread community transmission, breakthrough infections with serious consequences are more likely to occur due to the sharp escalation of new cases in recent weeks.”
Serious consequences are “to become seriously ill or to die”.
This is despite the recent trends “a lower incidence of serious illnesses and deaths, mainly thanks to the successful Covid-19 vaccination program”.
The spokesman also warned of “significant pressure” on surveillance and contact tracing teams due to the increase in daily case numbers, which hampered his ability to “visualize a full picture of the spread of the infection in the area.”
In Limerick alone, an average of 128 cases have been recorded daily for the past two weeks. During the same period, 3,374 cases were identified in the region, including 1801 in Limerick, 1027 in Clare and 546 in North Tipp.
The mean age of those infected (79%) was 18 years; 13% are 5-11 years old; 5% are 12-17 years old; and 3% are between 0 and 4 years old, according to Public Health Mid-West.
It comes when the Chief Medical Officer warned that Covid-19 was circulating at too high a level. Dr. Tony Holohan announced today that 2,975 more cases of the virus have been confirmed.
In the past week, 74 new deaths related to the virus were reported.
551 Covid patients are in hospital today – the highest value since the end of February.
Meanwhile, Public Health Mid-West also said it continues to fight outbreaks of Covid-19 in nursing homes, long-term care facilities, health facilities, workplaces, schools and other community facilities.
Dr. Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid West, warned that despite over 90% of the area having received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose, a recent surge in cases “we are likely to see more people”. hospitalized with Covid-19 this winter ”.
She said this situation could be “reversed” by restricting social activities and contacts.
Dr. Mannix urged people with Covid symptoms who rely on antigen tests with “undetected” results to “self-isolate and book a free PCR test to pinpoint their Covid-19 status”.
Elsewhere, a Limerick University Hospital (UHL) spokesman said that “Covid-19 activity at Limerick University Hospital remains high, with 37 Covid-positive patients being hospitalized, eight of whom are being treated in the intensive care unit, either in the intensive care unit or department with high dependency ”.
Management “continues to handle a hospital Covid outbreak that affected five inpatient units and resulted in a hospital-wide ban on visits,” they said.
As of Wednesday, 71 staff were absent across UL Hospitals Group, including “a small number of Covid-positive cases, staff who are symptomatic and staying at home according to public health guidelines, and those who are responsive to the results of Covid Wait for 19 swab tests. “Said a spokesman.
An “escalation plan, including making additional visits, expediting patient discharge and identifying patients for relocation to model 2 hospitals in the region,” is being implemented due to exceptionally high presentations in the hospital emergency room (ED).
Today there are 77 patients on trolleys in the hospital, 56 of them in the emergency room and 21 in wards.
The hospital spokesman said that despite the escalation plan to ease pressure on the hospital system, it has remained somewhat lame as “the current demand for our services is multi-faceted and high numbers of admitted patients require levels of care that are appropriate for the Midwest “, Can only be provided at UHL”.
“In general, patients currently admitted to UHL are sicker, have more complex conditions, and require longer inpatient stays to recover,” they said.
In the period before Covid 2019, the average daily patient visits to the Limerick emergency room was 195, but last month the average daily presence in the emergency room was 226 – this rose to 242 in the 24 hours until 8 a.m. on this Wednesday.
The spokesman urged the public to “consider all available care options before taking them to the emergency room,” including local injury units operating in the area 7 days a week, but added that “if you are seriously injured or ill or worry about your life ”. if there is a risk, the emergency department will give you priority assessment and treatment ”.
Overcrowding among patients and lengthy delays in accessing a bed at the UHL continue.
“We apologize to every patient who has waited a long time for admission to the UHL during this time of exceptionally high demand for our services,” said the spokesman.
UHL has added ten intensive care beds since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, giving the hospital a total of 28 beds, including 12 intensive care beds and 16 beds with high care needs.
Despite the additional capacity, the latest figures released by the HSE showed that there was only one ICU / HDU bed available in the hospital, spanning the entire region’s catchment area of over 400,000.