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'Unacceptable': Over 200 Covid-19 cases dating back to March only reported by hospital today

Notification of infectious diseases is required by legislation.

Image: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

HEALTH OFFICIALS ARE investigating how one hospital in the country failed to report over 200 cases of Covid-19, dating from as far back as mid-March, until today. 

Today Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan reported 426 new confirmed cases of the disease. However, he said the majority of these cases were not recent. 

A significant number – over 200 cases – relate to one hospital that had a small number of cases each day, never going above ten. These numbers were accumulated and were reported as one group today. 

Dr Holohan said he does not believe there was a failure to report deaths of patients with Covid-19 at this hospital.

“Obviously in the event of a death it will be notified not only to the hospital but the hospital has an obligation to notify public health authorities. If a death occurs in a hospital setting it’s also notified to the coroner so there,” he said. 

He declined to name the hospital but said steps will be taken to try to understand how a large number of cases were only reported now. The CMO also said he is unaware of whether this hospital had ever reported any cases before now or whether contact tracing took place in these cases.

He said considering the cases were in a hospital setting, occupational health staff may have done contact tracing after the cases were confirmed, but this is something that will have to be clarified.

When asked about potential sanctions for those responsible, Holohan said:

I’m not going to get into issues of consequences. Our real desire is to try to understand information and try encourage and get accurate reporting and the best way that happens, I think, is people fully, understandably and voluntarily reporting information in the way it’s required in the legislation. First of all we want to try to establish the facts of the situation.

He said contact will be made with other hospitals but he said he would be “really surprised” if it happened elsewhere. 

Responding to the news this evening, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly it is “unacceptable” that a hospital did not report this data for weeks and that the failure to report was “not picked up” before now. 

Given that we are going to be reliant on data to monitor the easing of restrictions this matter needs to be rectified and the minister needs to give an assurance that he is confident that it won’t happen again. There is a legal obligation to report this data and despite attempts to downplay it this is a very serious matter.

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Labour’s Alan Kelly also expressed concern about the revelation. “It is absolutely extraordinary that we are this far into this crisis and a hospital has not been reporting cases of Covid-19,” he told TheJournal.ie.

“We need to find out how, through the HSPC [Health Protection Surveillance Centre] this wasn’t noticed.

“Based on what Dr Holohan intimated, it may be that the whole hospital figure may not have been calculated until now. We need to ask the question – ‘how could this have transpired?’”

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