ALL unvaccinated adults in Limerick are being encouraged to avail of free self-referral Covid-19 tests, as new cases in the community continue to have a negative impact on businesses and services across the city and county.
According to provisional data, the Department of Public Health Mid-West has recorded more than 770 cases of Covid-19 in Limerick over the past fornight. There were a more than 80 cases in Clare and more than 50 in North Tipperary during the same period.
While the the majority of businesses have done their best to protect their customers and staff from Covid-19, there are concerning trends of inconsistent and poor practises when it comes to adhering to Public Health guidelines.
"This is largely among workplaces that have reopened over the past four weeks. It is very discouraging and frustrating for businesses who have reopened to be faced with possible closure again due to Covid outbreaks, and it is important that all employees and managers understand their responsibilities in the workplace," said a spokesperson for Public Health Mid West.
"We continue to see evidence of people who are confirmed close contacts attending work when they should be restricting their movements for at least 10 days, pending a negative PCR test result," he added.
While the vast majority of businesses have improved their mitigation measures in relation to social distancing during working hours, there have been some incidents of staff congregating or engaging in close contact in break rooms, locker rooms, and in communal areas without masks.
According to Public Health Mid West, a number of workplace situations have been connected to outbreaks which have been linked to indoor gatherings and house parties.
Issues have also been identified in some workplaces, such as hair salons and beauticians, where there is close contact between staff and customers or clients. PPE needs to be changed after each customer and there are concerns that some workplaces are not doing this, resulting in contaminated PPE.
Public Health Mid-West is currently investigating Covid-19 situations in 50 workplaces, involving 141 cases and an estimated 324 close contacts in the Mid-West region. The vast majority of these are in retail, supermarkets, hair salons, beauticians, offices, and factories.
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: “It is an exciting time as businesses return to work and bring back vibrancy into communities, which is very visible and welcome. With the increased social element associated with the reopening of retail, cafes, pubs and restaurants, the business community has an added responsibility to protect its staff and customers, which in turn will reduce the level of infection in their respective communities. If measures are lax amid a high incidence rate in the community, businesses are at increased risk of small to large outbreaks. Our department is prioritising the safe return of businesses and is eager to connect with the business community over the coming weeks to ensure just that.”
In relation to the lower daily Covid-19 figures in recent days, Dr Mannix said: “The public response in Limerick has to be commended and has potentially resulted in the prevention of hundreds of cases across the city and county. However, in recent weeks, we have seen a trend of cases fluctuating, and decreasing between Saturdays and Mondays due to lower uptake in testing at the weekend. In light of society being more active, we will need to see a consistent decrease in cases on a week-by-week basis.”
The free self-referral walk-in and drive-through COVID-19 testing centre at St Joseph’s Health Campus on Mulgrave Street is operational, from 11am to 6.15pm daily up to and including Monday, June 21.
No appointment is needed and those attending must bring photo ID and mobile phone.
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