Coronavirus: 99 clusters in nursing homes and residential institutions

Hiqa opens infection prevention and control hub to advise social care services

Minister for Health Simon Harris announces further measures to assist nursing homes during Covid-19. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

Minister for Health Simon Harris announces further measures to assist nursing homes during Covid-19. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times.

 

There are now 99 clusters of Covid-19 in nursing homes and residential institutions, 65 of them in the east of the country, data released on Monday evening shows.*

Two-thirds of nursing home cases were community-acquired, 23 per cent arose from contact with confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 12 per cent related to travel abroad.

Earlier, the HSE said outbreaks have been reported in all regions apart from the north-east. There are seven in the west, three in the mid-west and two in the midlands and north-west, as well as single outbreaks in both the south-east and the south.

There are also a growing number of outbreaks in residential institutions, where 26 clusters have now been reported; 18 are in the east.

The Health Information and Quality Authority, which inspects nursing homes, said yesterday it had opened an infection prevention and control hub to provide support and advice to social care services tackling Covid-19.

The hub, which provides guidance on managing outbreaks of the virus, is available to providers and staff of nursing homes, residential centres for people with a disability, special-care units and Tusla children’s residential settings.

“We know that providers and staff are working extremely hard to provide safe care to residents,” said Hiqa’s chief inspector of social services, Mary Dunnion. “In supporting residential services since the Covid-19 public health emergency began, it became apparent that additional support was required in the area of infection prevention and control.

“I am confident that by working together we can support and protect vulnerable adults and children living in residential centres. I hope that this service will be of benefit to both providers and staff.”

The Government announced a series of measures on Saturday to assist nursing homes cope with the coronavirus outbreak, including financial support of up to €72 million, the appointment of national and regional infection-control teams and temperature screening of staff twice a day.

The nursing home sector welcomed “that the focus has shifted to nursing homes now where our most vulnerable are living”, after months of planning by the Government for the hospital system and wider society.

Clusters

The number of clusters in hospitals has increased from 37 to 43 in the latest daily epidemiological report from the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre. In addition, there are 14 outbreaks in community hospitals or long-stay units.

A Covid-19 cluster is defined as two laboratory-positive cases in an institution.

It shows a total of 1,163 healthcare workers have become infected with coronavirus; foreign travel accounts for only 101 of these cases.

Over-65s account for almost half of all cases and more than 90 per cent of deaths. In contrast, under-25s account for less than 4 per cent of cases and no deaths.

The oldest person to be diagnosed with Covid-19 was 99 years old and the youngest was a baby in the first year of life.

The report shows Ireland has imported cases from 26 other countries, though the numbers relating to the main source countries such as the UK, Austria, Italy and Spain appear to have stabilised. No case is associated with travel from China, the country where the epidemic started.

*This story was amended in April 7th 2020 to clarify that 99 clusters included both nursing homes and residential institutions