11 Covid-19 related deaths at Dublin care home for elderly in past two weeks

A Dublin care home for the elderly has had 11 Covid-19-related deaths within the last two weeks.
11 Covid-19 related deaths at Dublin care home for elderly in past two weeks

A Dublin care home for the elderly has had 11 Covid-19 related deaths within the last two weeks.

The HSE has confirmed that 10 of those who passed away at St Mary’s Hospital in the Phoenix Park had tested positive for the virus.

While another resident was a suspected case but had not received their test results.

Nursing Homes Ireland is to meet with the Health Minister this afternoon.

It follows criticism that the speed at which Covid-19 has spread in nursing homes was not anticipated.

The majority of 425 clusters nationwide are in those settings.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that 18 Covid-19 response teams, including doctors and nurses, are to be deployed to nursing homes around the country.

Already 61 HSE staff have commenced working in nursing homes, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.

“This is happening in real time.”

Staff must be deployed where they are most needed, he said.

Mr Harris said every union has worked with the HSE to agree that their members will be redeployed – and this will include doctors and crisis management teams.

"We are making good progress as a country but we need to redouble our efforts with regards to nursing homes and residential care centres."

The Minister said a number of measures will be taken today, including an increase in extra testing, which will include asymptomatic people.

The day you believe you have done enough is the day you lose the battle against this deadly virus. We cannot save everyone, but we will make sure nobody is left behind.

The frontline in the battle against “this disgusting virus” is in residential care centres. He said.

When asked about the lifting of restrictions, Mr Harris said he will be guided by the health experts.

“We are not going to erase the progress people have made or put lives in danger.”

The Minister said he would like to put a plan in place to lift the restrictions gradually, but he warned that will not mean going back to life as it was before and measures such as social distancing will remain in place for some time. It is a very delicate balance.

“The lifting of restrictions is going to be complex and delicate and will involve trial and error.”

There will not be a dramatic change, he said.

It's going to be gradual, slow and we have to monitor it carefully. I'm determined we're not going to go the way of Italy or Spain.

The head of Nursing Homes Ireland, Tadhg Daly has warned there is not consistency of support to nursing homes throughout the country.

“That needs to change,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

The Covid-19 situation in nursing homes is a “very challenging situation”.

There was a lack of priority for the sector, he said.

The two issues that have been highlighted consistently for the sector have been testing and the lack of PPE, he added.

“We saw what was happening in other countries. We made contact with our members on January 30 and we were in constant contact with the HSE and the Department of Health throughout February.”

Mr Daly said that nursing homes and community care were “behind the curve”.

Ireland was not “an outlier” here, he said. The numbers of deaths in nursing homes were not higher than other countries.

Some of the measures taken have been having an impact and figures for transmission have slowed down in recent days, concluded Mr Daly.

Professor Ruairi Brugha of the Department of Public Health and Epidemiology at the Royal College of Surgeons has said nursing homes should be cocoons but instead they have become “nests of infections.”

A “dark” and “tragic picture” had emerged in recent times, he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, with elderly people dying and a “huge workload” and stress on staff in nursing homes and residential centres.

The number of deaths in nursing homes and care centres “has crept up on us”, he said and has led to questions on how the reporting of deaths and cases was being done.

Prof. Brugha said that while the country had been “very well led” in fighting Covid-19 and adjustments had been made, he believed it was now time to adjust the way data was reported.

Testing has been fundamental since the start, he said. As the country moves into a phase of relaxing measures, testing could be replaced with monitoring, he suggested.

Prof. Brugha said this would require a quick turnaround on test results and the ability to respond immediately when people become infectious.

Additional reporting by Digital Desk

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