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New figures show 38 clusters of Covid-19 in Ireland's nursing homes

Nursing homes now account for 23.8% of Covid-19 clusters in the country.

Image: Shutterstock/Birgit Reitz-Hofmann

THERE ARE NOW a total of 38 clusters of Covid-19 infections in the country’s nursing homes, according to new figures. 

A report published today by the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HSPC) found that out of the 160 clusters, which are outbreaks of positive cases that are likely to be connected, 38 had occurred in nursing homes – accounting for 23.8% of Covid-19 clusters in the country. 

The report published today, which analyses data as of midnight on 31 March, notes that the vast majority of outbreaks (29) are in the east of the country. Three clusters are in the midwest, three in the northeast, two in the west, and one in the midlands. 

The rise in figures comes after Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly yesterday told the Dáil that almost 100 staff members and residents in one nursing home tested positive for Covid-19. 

He said that of the 100 residents, 19 have tested positive and four have died.

“The situation is very serious. Nursing homes cannot get the staff they need, particularly in areas where additional skills, such as palliative care, are required. They cannot get their hands on personal protective equipment. They are receiving small amounts but that is not enough,” Donnelly said.

In an effort to minimise the impact the virus is having on nursing homes around the country, the HSE and Home and Community Care Ireland agreed to temporarily redeploy hundreds of home care workers to nursing homes and residential care facilities to support staff there during the outbreak.

As part of measures, carers will be temporarily redeployed from caring for low dependency clients in their homes if these clients can be cared for by family members who are at home due to social isolation.

Screenshot 2020-04-03 at 12.19.54 Source: HPSC

Screenshot 2020-04-03 at 12.20.48 Source: HPSC

The surge of confirmed cases seen in nursing homes so far is expected to hit hospitals in the coming weeks, the president of the Irish Association for emergency medicine told Morning Ireland today.  

Dr Emily O’Connor said evidence in the UK suggested many people “will get seriously ill, quickly, and at the same time” and that may be when hospitals struggle.

O’Connor warned that 5% were expected to need critical support.

The fear is that if too many patients need critical care at the same time hospitals may run out of space and staff to treat them.

Today’s HPSC report also shows that community transmission was responsible for a quarter of instances.

Almost 90% of those who have died of coronavirus are aged 65 and above but two deaths have been recorded amongst patients aged between 25 and 34. Two people, one aged between 35-44 and one between 45-54, have also died. 

Out of 3,282 laboratory-confirmed cases, 91 have died,  giving a case fatality rate of 2.77

- with reporting from PA

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