Covid wardzone 27 staff and patients contract Covid-19 at psychiatric unit in Naas hospital
Health chiefs have ordered the immediate deployment of an 'Outbreak Control Team' after an entire psychiatric ward at Naas General Hospital was infected by one Covid-19 positive patient.
With Ireland's Covid-19 cases now totalling 56,108 after the confirmation of 859 new cases last night, and four new deaths bringing that total to 1,882, the HSE has been forced to take action at the Kildare hospital where at least 27 staff and patients have tested positive for the virus.
It is believed that the outbreak occurred after the male patient was transferred to Naas from Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown on Friday, October 16.
Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy described the outbreak as "shocking".
"How can you manage a congregated setting if you don't have strict protocols in place for testing? It is not a minor deal to be admitted to a psychiatric ward. These people are at their most vulnerable."
The Lakeview Psychiatric Unit, a 30-bed ward which adjoins the emergency department within the main hospital building, has now been locked down. The unit shares equipment such as X-ray and MRI machines with the rest of the hospital. Staffing in the unit is now operating at under 50 per cent capacity, with replacements having been redeployed from other community services.
The HSE said yesterday that an outbreak in a healthcare setting is called when there is a minimum of two positive contacts.
"In accordance with HPSC guidelines, an Outbreak Control Team has been convened and continues to work with Public Health and Occupational Health to manage the response to a Covid-19 outbreak on two wards in Naas General Hospital and in The Inpatient Acute Psychiatric Lakeview Unit, based on the grounds of Naas General Hospital," the spokesperson said.
"The outbreaks in the acute hospital are separate to the outbreak on the psychiatric ward and are being managed to ensure hospital services can continue in a safe environment.
"Covid-19 testing and contact tracing of both staff and patients is undertaken to ensure the protection of public health.
"Any staff identified as close contacts of Covid-19 cases are asked to isolate. Plans have been developed to support continuity of services and guide senior management to identify the level of impact on service and staff."
The spokesperson added: "Visiting to hospitals is not permitted, except for compassionate grounds. Do not attend a hospital or any health care facility if you have any symptoms suggestive of Covid-19 infection. Please contact your GP by phone for advice if you have any concerns."
In the new figures released last night, 415 are men and 441 are women with 62 per cent under 45 years of age. There were 192 new cases in Dublin, 148 in Cork, 58 in Donegal, 55 in Galway, 54 in Meath, with 352 cases spread across 21 remaining counties.
At 2pm, there were 315 Covid-19 patients in hospital, of which 37 are in ICU. There have been 16 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.
Yesterday, the Taoiseach Micheál Martin, warned the country faces "a lot of bumpy roads ahead" in its struggle with the Covid-19 crisis.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the MacGill Summer School yesterday, Mr Martin said prior to moving to Level 5, "Ireland had the most stringent restrictions in Europe".
But, he added, one issue that had arisen was that a lot of behaviour developed at Level 2 "seeded the spread" of the virus.
"In my view, it's a very challenging agenda," he acknowledged, "but as a country we are getting through this. There's going to be a lot of bumpy roads ahead with Covid-19, but we have a clear policy position working with Nphet."
The Taoiseach also explained that the Government did not move immediately to Level 5 following Nphet's earlier recommendation, as the country had to prepare beforehand, and moving from Level 2 to Level 5 would have been a big leap.
Mr Martin said Level 5 restrictions are "very difficult" for people "who are now fatigued, particularly after the first lockdown" but added "that is the cycle we are in".
Asked if the public would have to accept a cycle of going in and out of lockdowns for the foreseeable future, he suggested that Level 3 restrictions have "some controlling influence on the spread of the virus and I think we have learned from the first reopening that how we manage the next one is going to be important".
With the State this week moving to the highest level of restrictions in an effort to contain the disease, new legislation passed by the Dáil on Friday evening gives powers to gardaí to issue fines to people in breach of the lockdown regulations.
The public face fines of up to €500 for breaching the 5km travel limit introduced as part of lockdown measures. Those who host house parties or gatherings could be fined up to €1,000. Second and third offenders can face imprisonment and fines of up to €2,500.
The legislation underpinning the use of fines for breaches of restrictions was passed on Friday. The law in relation to house parties comes into effect this weekend; fixed penalty notices will be introduced in the coming week.