Three hospitals ban visitors as outbreak of flu spreads

Three hospitals have issued visitor bans on the public after the HSE confirmed the country is in the grip of a major flu outbreak.

Cork University Hospital along with Cork University Maternity Hospital; Kerry General; and Tralee Community Nursing Unit said they are restricting visitors in light of the situation.

After the Irish Examiner ]revealed earlier this week reported that at least one patient at CUH has contracted the potentially lethal swine flu virus, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre said rates of influenza in general are on the rise.

It said the country is reporting 42 cases for every 100,000 people — double the normal level. Since the start of 2014, 118 people have been hospitalised with flu with eight deaths and six area-specific flu outbreaks being recorded.

And, coupled with concern raised over the swine flu diagnosis at CUH, health facilities and the public have been urged to be aware of any potential infections.

Kerry General’s manager, TJ O’Connor, said only two visitors will be allowed in per person and no children.

Visitor times have also been restricted to 2-4pm and 6.30-8.30pm. No visitors are allowed at Tralee Community Nursing Unit.

At CUH and CUMH, only one visitor and no children are allowed per patient, and partners or husbands at the maternity facility.

Meanwhile, the HSE still has more than €2.5m worth of swine flu-fighting drug Tamiflu stockpiled in warehouses. However, the British Medical Journal and expert group the Cochrane Library raised questions over the impact of the drug.

A 2010 investigation found some World Health Organisation scientists who recommended the drugs should be stockpiled had financial ties with the pharmaceutical firms involved.

However, the Department of Health said that as the WHO and the European Centre for Disease Control have not changed their advice on the medication, there is no need to re-examine Ireland’s stockpiling of the drug.

Virus stats

Ireland’s flu outbreak rate currently stands at 42 cases per 100,000 people — double the level usually recorded in February.

Since the start of the year, 118 people have been hospitalised with the virus, including 34 between February 9 and 16 alone.

Eight people have died, with six area- specific flu outbreaks mainly centred on nursing homes being recorded.

Among the most at-risk groups are five-to-14-year-olds, 55-to-64-year-olds, and pregnant women.

Due to safety concerns Cork University Hospital, Cork University Maternity Hospital, Kerry General, and Tralee Community Nursing Unit are restricting visitors.

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