An outbreak of Covid-19 has been detected at two hospital wards, including a psychiatric ward, at Naas General Hospital in Kildare.
A spokeswoman for the HSE said that the outbreak in the acute hospital was separate to the outbreak at the inpatient acute psychiatric Lakeview Unit, based on the grounds of the hospital, and confirmed that an outbreak control team was managing cases on both wards.
Earlier thereported that at least 18 staff and nine patients at the psychiatric ward had tested positive for the virus, following the transfer of a patient from a Dublin hospital to the Naas facility in recent weeks.
"Plans have been developed to support continuity of services and guide senior management to identify the level of impact on service and staff,” a spokeswoman for the HSE said.
“The protection of public health is of the utmost importance and every effort is taken to reduce the risk of spread of Covid-19,” they said, adding that it could not comment specifically on individual cases or outbreaks.
The patient had been swabbed before he arrived at the hospital and the result had been negative. However, he developed Covid-19 symptoms on Friday, October 16.
It is understood the patient had a fever but was not swabbed for the virus and was not isolated.
It is also understood the patient, who was sharing a six-bedded bay with elderly patients, was free to roam around the communal areas of the hospital unit.
“This guy was wandering around the hospital for three days. There are people working in this department who move from one section of the hospital to the other. We use the same canteen. Why wasn’t he swabbed?” a source said.
The patient wasn't swabbed until Sunday, October 18, and only isolated and moved to the medical unit after his test came back positive on the following day, Monday, October 19.
Mass testing of the hospital’s staff body is due to take place before bank holiday Monday.
The Lakeview Psychiatric Unit at Naas Hospital is a 30-bed ward which adjoins the emergency department within the main hospital building. The unit shares equipment such as x-ray and MRI machines with the rest of the hospital.
Staffing in the unit is now operating at under 50% capacity, according to sources, with replacements having been redeployed from other community services.
“This is a huge concern for service users and their families, and the staff in the unit are now under enormous pressure,” a spokesperson for the Psychiatric Nurses Association said.
Local Social Democrats TD Catherine Murphy described the outbreak as “shocking”.
“How can you possibly manage a congregated setting if you don’t have strict protocols in place for testing?” she said.
“It is not a minor deal to be admitted to a psychiatric ward. These people are at their most vulnerable.”