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Cork University Hospital reschedules some outpatient appointments amid Covid-19 fears

Some outpatient appointment slots on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday be reduced or rescheduled.

Image: Cork University Hospital

Updated Mar 8th 2020, 12:30 PM

CORK UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL has said that it will be reducing and rescheduling outpatient appointments over the next three days amid Covid-19 concerns.

This comes after a male patient in Cork University Hospital was diagnosed with the new coronavirus. He had been receiving treatment for a separate illness, which led to close contacts with healthcare workers at the hospital.

This represents the only confirmed case of community transmission in Ireland – the man hadn’t recently travelled from northern Italy, and wasn’t known to be in contact with someone who had travelled from an affected area.

A statement issued today said that from tomorrow 9 March until Wednesday 11 March, some outpatient appointments will be rescheduled.

An outpatient appointment is one to to see a consultant, or have a procedure carried out during the day, where an overnight hospital stay isn’t required. 

It also noted that the following hospital services will not be affected, and that patients should attend their appointments:

  • Dialysis
  • Dressing clinic
  • Warfarin clinic
  • Endoscopy
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Infusions
  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy

“All other appointments are being rescheduled, unless patients are directly contacted by the hospital to attend their scheduled appointment,” the statement said.

“Surgeries will proceed as normal unless patients are contacted by the hospital.”

Visiting restrictions were announced for the hospital earlier in the week, and remain throughout the hospital. 

Cork University Hospital apologised for any inconvenience this could cause for patients.

“CUH wish to thank the public for their patience and support at this time. The hospital will continue to keep the public updated.”

At Vincent’s University Hospital, visits to patients have been restricted indefinitely since yesterday, apart from some oncology patient visits.

Staff

Last night, new advice was issued to healthcare workers who have been close contacts of a confirmed case. 

Healthcare workers who have been in close contact with a confirmed case and have developed symptoms should be excluded from work, while staff who have been in close contact, but who have not developed symptoms and are deemed to be essential workers may work “provided they observe strict adherence to infection prevention and control precautions”.

Workers in this situation will also be asked to undergo twice daily active monitoring for 14 days after contact with a confirmed case. 

“We have to manage to balance between the clinical risk, keeping the system going and ensuring our staff are safe and let me reassure – we want to make sure our staff are safe,  make sure the public are safe, make sure patients in our hospitals are safe,” HSE chief executive Paul Reid told RTÉ Radio One today. 

“As part of this process we’re balancing the clinical risk and the capacity to keep the system functioning,” he said. 

Speaking specifically about Cork University Hospital, where close to 100 staff had been placed in isolation, Reid said that kind of approach couldn’t be sustained.

“It will mean a change of approach in terms of Cork, to keep them getting staff in the right place”, he said. 

Some staff who are not showing symptoms will now be returning to work, Reid confirmed. 

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Background

One new confirmed case of Covid-19 was announced last night, bringing the total in Ireland to 19. The majority of the confirmed cases so far are related to travel from northern Italy.

Three new cases have been confirmed in Northern Ireland, bringing the total to seven confirmed cases. The all-island total is now 26 cases. 

There are over 100,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19 around the world. Almost 3,500 people have died from the virus so far, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).

Symptoms of Covid-19 include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Breathing difficulties

The HSE’s advice page on the coronavirus says: “The risk of catching coronavirus in Ireland is still low to moderate. This may change. However, most people may continue to go to work, school and other public places, as usual.”

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