Clusters of Covid-19 infections spread to 211 nursing homes

Almost 60 per cent of virus deaths associated with residential facilities and nursing homes

Coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes have passed the 200-mark with the State's chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan saying that there were now clusters in 211 nursing homes.

This amounts to cases in almost 40 per cent of the country’s 540 nursing homes.

Adding residential settings, the number of Covid-19 clusters now stands at 355. A cluster is defined as two cases or more.

Residential care and nursing homes account for more than half of the 600-plus clusters of infection identified since the first case of Covid-19 was detected in the State on February 29th.

In total, 58 per cent of the 1,102 deaths related to the coronavirus disease are associated with residential facilities, while nursing homes alone account for 49.5 per cent of deaths.

Of the 641 deaths in residential settings, 500 were laboratory-confirmed cases of Covid-19, while the rest were treated as probable or suspected cases of the disease.

Of the 546 deaths in nursing homes, 420 were laboratory confirmed as being Covid-19 related, with the balance accounted for by probable or suspected cases.

A total of 3,875 coronavirus cases were associated with the clusters in residential settings, including 3,048 individuals in nursing homes.

Some 8.1 per cent of cases in residential settings were admitted to hospital; and 7 per cent of cases in nursing homes.

There are 420 privately-owned nursing homes and 120 HSE-run homes in the country where 29,000 residents live and 30,000 work.

Surge

The surge in the number of reported Covid-19 cases has arisen following the Government’s decision to order mass testing of nursing home staff and residents.

"There has been a focused campaign of testing of both residents and staff so that obviously has meant that there are more cases being confirmed," said Tadhg Daly, chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland, the body representing the country's private nursing home owners.

One of the worst affected nursing homes, St Mary's Hospital in the Phoenix Park in Dublin recorded the death of another resident, bringing to 22 the number of people who have died there this month. One third of bedrooms in the HSE-run nursing home are shared between residents, according to inspection reports from the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa).

Each ward has two twin bedrooms and one four-bed room. The facility has 198 residential places and has been battling the widespread transmission of coronavirus in recent weeks.

A HSE spokeswoman said suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases “are cohorted and isolated based on their assessment and within the facilities available on-site.”

An additional ward was opened within St Mary’s to better isolate cohorts of confirmed, or suspected cases, she said.

“At this time there is capacity to offer all patients an individual room if they choose and it is appropriate,” the spokeswoman said.

“An outbreak management team meet daily to manage the Covid-19 outbreak within St Mary’s Hospital, where actions are agreed and implemented in the best interests of the residents.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times

Jack Power

Jack Power

Jack Power is a reporter with The Irish Times

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