Anniversary of first confirmed Covid cases in Mid West marked by healthcare agencies

Covid-19 Covid-19 Covid-19

The first cases of Covid-19 in the Mid West were confirmed on March 4, 2021

ON the anniversary of the first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Mid West, The Department of Public Health Mid-West, UL Hospitals Group, and HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare has moved to thank the public and frontline workers for their enormous sacrifices throughout the pandemic.

The three agencies are also renewing their call on the people of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary to continue their fight against the virus so that the most vulnerable and those at-risk can get a chance to avail of the vaccine.

There were 17,425 cases recorded in the Mid-West between March 4, 2020 and February 28, 2021. The majority of these cases were recorded in 2021—8,903 in January, and 1,613 in February.

As of February 28 this year, there have been 10,502 cases in Limerick, 4,597 in Clare, and 2,326 in North Tipperary.

To date, there have been 364 confirmed and possible deaths associated with Covid-19 in the Mid-West region, with an age range of 42 to 105 years.

In mid-January, more than 1,450 healthcare staff across the Mid-West on Covid-related leave. This was across the UL Hospitals Group, HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare services, and private long-term care facilities.

Commenting on the one-year milestone, Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: “We are now at a critical time of the pandemic where we have an opportunity to suppress this virus while allowing our most vulnerable get vaccinated. If we can achieve both, we can save lives and it enable us to swiftly investigate new Covid-19 cases when they arise."

Dr Mannix added: “This is only possible if we act this very minute. We acknowledge the fatigue many are feeling, but this virus wants us to be fatigued so we drop our guards. We are seeing evidence of this across all ages and a range of settings, including family gatherings, household visits among neighbours, small and large social events, not using appropriate PPE and distancing in some workplaces. We still see simple interactions leading to inter-county outbreaks across multiple settings.”

Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said: “In the year since COVID-19 was first detected, public healthcare in this region has been utterly transformed. The titanic efforts of healthcare workers, and the support of the public for guidelines that have denied them the human contact and curtailed the social customs they held so dear in pre-pandemic normality, have protected our hospitals from being overwhelmed by the coronavirus.”

Prof Cowan added that hope is on the horizon as the Covid-19 vaccination programme rolls out across the region and and UL Hospitals Group tentatively makes the first steps to re-open scheduled care.

“However, the battle that has cost us all so much personal and professional sacrifice is not over yet. Vaccination will take time to complete, and until a significant majority of the population is vaccinated, we must continue to adhere to the restrictions that have helped the healthcare frontline to prevail against the disease,” she said.

Maria Bridgeman, Chief Officer, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare is appealing to the public to reduce any risks posed to them by adhering to the public health guidelines. "Wash your hands properly and often; cover coughs and sneezes; and practice social distancing. Very importantly, please do not visit households or gather in groups, as these actions have previously and continue to demonstrate impact on infection levels across the region," she said.

"If case numbers increase again it will have a real impact on the vulnerable people in our society, staff and the wider community. If Covid positive numbers increase it will increase the challenge for all of us. Social gatherings and household visits have real consequences. None of us want to see the current level of restrictions continue indefinitely. Please adhere to the public health guidelines, stay at home and limit your contacts. Holding firm and doing the right thing makes a real difference," she added.

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