WATCH: Health Minister responds to Covid-19 outbreak in Limerick town

THE Health Minister has appealed to anyone who might have been hit by the Covid-19 community outbreak in Kilmallock to "get yourself tested".

Stephen Donnelly was in Limerick today to urge people to take advantage of the walk-in vaccination clinics taking place this Bank Holiday weekend at the Patrickswell Racecourse.

His visit comes less than 24 hours after the Department of Public Health Mid-West warned of a community outbreak after it recorded more than 20 cases in the south Limerick town over the past fortnight.

It’s associated with social activity in hospitality with onward transmission in multiple settings including households and workplaces there.

However, he said as more and more people get the Covid-19 jab, outbreaks like this will reduce.

"It's important we recognise with the best will in the world, these things are going to happen. And if you were there, go and get yourself tested. It's all free and very quick. If you are symptomatic yourself, call your GP and book in for a test and obviously isolate yourself. As more and more people get vaccinated, these outbreaks will become less and less. The appeal from me is to keep following the public health advice. It's not bulletproof, but it will help with some of the bigger outbreaks," he said.

Mr Donnelly - who visited Patrickswell with local TD and Minister Niall Collins - said the "vast majority" of the hospitality sector is adhering to the rules around social distancing, and only allowing some parties to dine indoors.

"The hospitality sector wants to run its businesses. They want to take care of their staff, make sure they are safe, take care of their patrons, make sure they are safe. If there are a few outliers - and we've seen them - who have decided they do not need that, they are putting their patrons and staff at risk and I would urge them to stop doing that immediately," he added.

The Fianna Fail TD was also asked about criticism from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Association after all elective activity and outpatient clinics at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) were cancelled yesterday to assist with patient flow as the facility copes with high emergency department attendance.

Asked if there is a need for ministerial intervention, he said: "We need more nurses, we need more consultants, we need more beds, we need more diagnostics, we need more home care. A lot of that was put in place last winter. We launched a €600m winter plan. In spite of Covid-19 which should have made the trolley crisis worse, we didn't have a trolley crisis last year and that's thanks to the huge work of the clinicians on the ground and the hospital management."

He pointed out at UHL a second MRI scanner was put in place 18 months, while the 96 bed unit also began to open.

He said the appointment of 34 new consultants has now been sanctioned, small number of whom are in place.

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