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Covid-19: Health authorities 'working rapidly' to identify contacts of doctor and his family in Limerick

Patients who may have come into contact with one of the confirmed cases of Covid-19 are being contacted directly.

Image: Google Street View.

PUBLIC HEALTH AUTHORITIES are “working rapidly” to identify contacts of a doctor and his family who are being treated for coronavirus in University Hospital Limerick.

The doctor, his wife, and their two children, have been put into isolation bays at UHL, and are being monitored by staff who must wear gowns, gloves, and eye goggles, as part of protocols to help prevent further spread of the virus.

A joint statement released by the UL Hospitals Group, HSE MidWest Community Healthcare, and HSE Public Health MidWest, which did not identify the four patients with Covid-19, confirmed what sources told this reporter yesterday — that the Emergency Department at UHL was closed off last Wednesday to allow for a deep clean, and patients were diverted to other hospitals.

Sources said a doctor worked a full shift at the emergency department last Wednesday after having returned from a trip to northern Italy.

The ED was closed to allow for a deep clean after the doctor and his wife and their two children tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.

A joint statement released this morning read: “UL Hospitals Group and HSE MidWest Community Healthcare can confirm they are working closely with public health colleagues in tracing contacts of four confirmed cases of Covid-19 (novel coronavirus). These patients are currently isolated in hospital and receiving appropriate care.”

“The cases were confirmed on 4 March and public health are now working rapidly to identify any contacts this small cluster may have had in the days prior to this positive result.”

“This work will be completed as quickly as possible.”

“Public health colleagues are in the process of informing the relevant contacts and advising on any relevant follow-up actions that may be necessary to protect their own health, that of their families and the community at large.”

“The contacts include patients who attended Zone A (minor injuries) of the Emergency Department in UHL between the hours of 10am and 2pm on Wednesday last, February 26.”

These patients “are being contacted directly”.

“Patients in any other area of the Emergency Department or the wider hospital are not considered to be contacts.”

“Patients who attended a small number of other health services are also being contacted by public health in line with procedure.”

“We can confirm that the Emergency Department was put off call for a three-hour period on Wednesday night to facilitate a precautionary deep clean of affected areas. Patients arriving by ambulance were diverted to Galway University Hospitals during this interval in line with established national protocols.”

Those who were working alongside the doctor last Wednesday have been asked to self isolate. 

“Staff who were in close contact with one of the confirmed cases have been advised not to report for duty and to follow the guidance of public health and occupational health colleagues.”

“Staff at UL Hospitals Group and in HSE Community Healthcare have been preparing for positive cases of Covid-19 for a number of weeks now and are closely following the plans established by the HSE and the Department of Health and in line with the WHO and ECDC guidance.”

The mid west health authorities added: “We remain in the containment phase in relation to Covid-19 and as long as this remains the case, it is important that members of the public follow the most up-to-date advice from the HSE.”

“General advice and information on Covid-19 for members of the public is available on www.hse.ie\coronavirus and the vast majority of people in the MidWest can access all the relevant information here.”

The Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick is operating as normal today.

About the author:

David Raleigh

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