Increase in Covid-related activity reported at Limerick hospital

The emergency department at UHL

There has been an increase in Covid-related activity at the emergency department at UHL

AS hospital services in Limerick and across the Mid-West continue to be severely impacted by the cyber attack on HSE IT systems, members of the public are being urged to continue to follow public health advice and guidelines in relation to Covid-19.

According to the UL Hospitals Group, there were 14 Covid-positive patients admitted to UHL on Thursday - an increase on the two Covid-positive patients who were in the hospital a week earlier on May 13.

"While these figures should be interpreted with a large degree of caution, our clinicians are reporting an increase in Covid-19 related activity presenting to our ED at a time when the department, and all acute hospital services, are facing massive disruption as a result of last week’s cyber attack," said a spokesperson.

All national guidance on Covid-19 testing is being followed across the group and it continues to take all the necessary infection control precautions with separate Covid and non-Covid pathways for all patients attending the emergency department.

"The effects of the cyber attack have increased wait times, increased the risk of crowding and are severely testing our diagnostic capacity as staff switch to manual back-up systems. At this time it is imperative that people continue to adhere to the public health advice around hand hygiene, social distancing, cough and sneeze etiquette, wearing a mask and avoiding crowds," said the spokesperson.

Making a public appeal ahead of the weekend, Colette Cowan, CEO, UL Hospitals Group, said: “It seems particularly cruel that our patients and staff have been affected by this devastating cyber attack at a time when the progress of the vaccination programme and the lifting of restrictions was offering us so much hope. Our clinicians have in recent days reported an increase in Covid-19 activity through our ED. We need to interpret the data with caution and we are working closely with our public health and community colleagues on monitoring the overall trend of the pandemic."

Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, added: "This sinister cyber attack has placed a massive hurdle in front of our health service that is already tackling its biggest ever crisis as a result of the pandemic. Our Covid-19 fight is far from over, and we continue to see young people, including parents of young families, being admitted to hospital with this disease. So, at this point in time as our health service deals with this cyber attack, I am asking everyone to help our frontline workers who are pulling out all the stops to protect the public. Avoid high-risk activity that could expose you or a loved one to being infected."

Members of the public who have symptoms of Covid-19 are being reminded that they should not attend the emergency department or their GP.  They should ring them in advance for advice, and avoid contact with other people by self-isolating.

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