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Nursing home sector 'concerned' as CMO highlights outbreaks in letter to government

The government is expected to reject NPHET’s advice and move the rest of the country to Level 3.

Image: Shutterstock/Dmytro Zinkevych

THE NURSING HOME sector is concerned that outbreaks in this setting were set out as one of the reasons NPHET recommended a move to Level 5 restrictions at the weekend.

Yesterday Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan wrote to the government recommending the entire country move to Level 5, which would be a three-level escalation for most of the country.

It is reported that the letter stated the National Public Health Emergency Team is concerned about the rising case numbers among those aged over 65 and about the 31 open outbreaks in nursing homes. The CMO reported there had been seven outbreaks reported in the last week.

It is understood that at the NPHET meeting with government earlier today, questions were raised about the mention of the 31 outbreaks. It was pointed out that a nursing home has to be 28-days free of Covid-19 cases before its outbreak can be closed.

The government is expected to reject the advice to implement Level 5 restrictions, and instead move the rest of the country in line with Dublin and Donegal to Level 3.

Tadhg Daly, CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland, told TheJournal.ie that it is “worrying” that there have been seven new outbreaks in nursing homes in the last week, but pointed out that a number of weeks ago the number of open outbreaks was 36.

“Thankfully that means some are coming off that outbreak list,” he said. “But seven new outbreaks is a worrying development and the fact that the CMO mentioned that in his letter to the government is also concerning.

“We know there is a direct correlation between high incidence in the community and transmission in nursing homes – that’s the bottom line. The government has to get it under control in the community in order to keep it out of nursing homes.”

Daly said the situation for nursing homes is more secure than it was at the beginning of the pandemic, with better access to personal protective equipment and serial testing, which helps to pick up asymptomatic cases among staff.

“I am hoping the jolt that society got over the last 24 hours will influence people’s behaviour over the next while,” he said.

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