HSE Covid-19 crisis team reveals dramatic change in coronavirus testing in Laois and other midland counties

Much higher in October than the first month of the pandemic

Conor Ganly

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Conor Ganly

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news@leinsterexpress.ie

Covid-19 incidence in Offaly now very different than before local lockdown in August

Pop-up Covid-19 testing centre in Portlaoise in August

The HSE has carried out more than five times more Covid-19 tests in Laois other midland counties in October compared to the first month of the spread of the coronavirus in Ireland.

The HSE Area Crisis Management Team for Midlands Louth Meath says that to date in October a total of 26,368 tests have been carried out in testing centres in Midlands, Louth, Meath compared to 4,022 in the month of March last.

The total number of tests carried out in Midlands Louth Meath since March to date is 103,000

With the implementation of Level 5, the team said additional Covid-19 testing is now taking place and testing centres are open this weekend in Portlaoise, Tullamore, Mulingar, Ashbourne Longford and Ardee.

The team revealed the figures in a statement in which senior community, public health and hospital management for the region delivered an update on how the pandemic is being managed. 

A statement said the crisis has been meeting regularly in respect of planning since the outbreak of Covid 19.  This week following the Government’s decision on Level 5, work has centred on planning around the additional measures needed to contain the spread of Covid-19 across the area.

The team said all HSE services in the region will continue to make available every resource necessary to stop the spread of the virus. Apart from additional testing, it says response teams are providing ongoing support to private nursing homes in the region.

Precautions are in place in all healthcare settings so that vital health services can still be provided. The team adds that health services across the region will remain open, and no one should delay seeking advice from any healthcare professional if it’s needed. Anyone with an appointment should presume that appointment is going ahead unless they are told otherwise.

Chair of the HSE Area Crisis Management Team CHO Mr Pat Bennet thanked the public for their support.

“We know that this re-introduction of restrictions will be difficult for the people of the region. However, we also know that taking action now is in everyone’s best interests. We know this is difficult, but we have suppressed this virus in the past and we can do it again if we work together,” he said.

Mr Bennett reminded the people of Midlands Louth Meath of the important measures they can continue to take to stop Covid-19 spreading.

“We need to ask the people of the region to redouble their efforts when it comes to keeping their distance from each other; wearing face coverings; catching coughs and sneezes and washing their hands,” he said.

Director of Public Health for the Midlands, Dr Una Fallon appealed to the public to isolate at home if they have any symptoms of Covid-19, and to present for testing if they are asked to do so.

“It’s more important than ever that anyone with any symptoms of Covid-19 isolates at home and phones their GP to arrange a test,” she said.

Dr Fallon added that there is a clear trend in recent weeks of outbreaks linked to various workplaces, and reminded those designated as essential workers to make sure that they are protecting themselves and others while at work.

“It’s important to maintain a distance of two metres from others at all times, including at break times and while travelling to and from work. This is now even more important than ever for those designated as essential workers as they cannot continue their work if they become close contacts of confirmed cases,” she said.

Dr Fallon also stressed the importance of self-isolation for anyone who is referred for a Covid-19 test, waiting for the result of such a test or has a positive Covid-19 test.

“If you are a close contact of a confirmed case of Covid-19, it is incredibly important that you come to the tests arranged for you. You may feel well but it is possible that you have the virus and are spreading it without knowing. Isolating when you are asked to do so, and completing two tests is the best way to be certain that you are not unwittingly spreading the virus,” she added.

Trevor O’Callaghan is CEO of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group. He oversees hospitals in Laois, Offaly, Kildare and Dublin where Covid-19 patients are being treated.

 “The growing number of covid-19 cases, hospital and ICU admissions in recent of weeks is a real concern for us all, both professionally and personally. This virus remains the single biggest threat to our society, the delivery of healthcare and to each and every one of us. While it has been said time and time again, it is in our hands.

"It is so important we remain vigilant, adhere to Phase 5 restrictions and to act on Public Health advice to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This will enable public services to remain open, resume non-COVID healthcare and protect our vulnerable people. Our services are continuing and people should continue for their planned appointment, unless they are contacted by the Hospital and advised otherwise.

"All our Hospitals have clear pathways in place so that people can access the care they need, when they need it, but we need the public’s support to ensure this access to patient care is not overwhelmed.  I would like to acknowledge the public, all members of our communities who are also on the frontline with us in battling this deadly virus. If we all play our part, we can get through this pandemic and come out of it stronger and more united than ever before,” he said.

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