A Co Mayo nursing home has confirmed that seven of its residents have died this month, five of whom tested positive for the Covid-19 virus.
A number of the 36 surviving residents of the Tí Aire private nursing home in Belmullet are still being treated for the virus, with one positive case among two residents currently in hospital.
Another two residents also died in hospital this month, but their cause of death has not been confirmed.
Nursing home manager John Tighe said that all 36 remaining residents had been tested, and staff testing is “ongoing“ with results awaited.
“Some residents who tested positive for Covid-19 are doing well and we are supporting them through their recovery,” he said.
Mr Tighe added that extensive contingency planning and additional infection control measures had been put in place in advance of any confirmed cases at the home while extra training and supports had been put in place for staff.
“All national HSE and HIQA guidelines are being followed and we are liaising and working closely with both organisations on a regular basis. We are also working closely with the Public Health Service, HSE Community Healthcare Organisations and the National Ambulance Service,” he said
“We received additional quantities of PPE equipment from the HSE several weeks ago and we are happy with the quality and quantity of that equipment."
“As part of our contingency planning we also recruited additional staff to ensure we have sufficient numbers to care for residents through this crisis,” he added.
Tí Aire in Tallagh, Belmullet, is located in one of the more isolated parts of the north-west coast.
It is one of a number of homes run by the Sonas group which has nursing homes in counties Mayo, Sligo, Roscommon, Westmeath, Carlow and Tipperary.
Local politicians have expressed alarm about the high rate of Covid-19 infection in the county, compared to neighbouring Galway – particularly in the far less populated north of the county.
There were 332 cases of the virus in Mayo, compared to 294 in Galway, as of Monday night.
Mayo County Council chief executive Peter Hynes expressed concern about “new hotspots” in the county, when he told councillors earlier this week that numbers continued to escalate.
Independent councillor Michael Kilcoyne said he cannot understand “why the figures in the county of Mayo are as high as the county next door in Galway which has double the population and which has a city”.
Cllr Kilcoyne also said he believed some 40 staff in Mayo University Hospital are either out sick with the virus or are isolating as they await tests for Covid-19.
“This raises serious questions,” he said.
Sinn Féin TD for Mayo Rose Conway-Walsh also called for more transparency and said the Health Service Executive (HSE) needed to take “immediate action” in relation to providing personal protection equipment (PPE) for health care staff in hospitals, nursing homes, care settings and in the community.