Covid-19: Death toll at two nursing homes in Louth and Galway rises to 26

Blackrock Abbey near Dundalk and Greenpark Nursing Home in Tuam were both badly hit

The number of deaths at the privately owned nursing home has risen from six last week. File photogaph: iStock

The number of deaths at the privately owned nursing home has risen from six last week. File photogaph: iStock


The number of residents with Covid-19 to die at Co Louth nursing home has risen to 14 with one man dying more than a week after receiving the first dose of the vaccine.

Blackrock Abbey near Dundalk has said that it is through the worst of the outbreak with just two of more than 30 residents who had the virus left to complete their 14-day isolation period.

The number of deaths at the privately owned nursing home has risen from six last week.

Meanwhile, 12 residents have died in a nursing home in Tuam, Co Galway, during a “horrendous” outbreak of Covid-19 that struck days before residents were due to be vaccinated, the facility’s director of nursing has said.

In recent weeks 35 of the 49 residents in Greenpark Nursing Home have tested positive for Covid-19, with nearly half of the staff contracting the virus as well. Four of the 12 deaths have occurred since Sunday, director of nursing Brian McNamara told The Irish Times.

The privately-run nursing home had successfully managed to keep Covid-19 out of the facility since the start of the pandemic, until last month. The first confirmed case was identified on January 11th, with the virus rapidly spreading through the care home afterwards.

Staff and residents in the nursing home received the first of two doses of the Covid-19 vaccine on January 19th. However, those who were confirmed cases at that point were unable to receive the vaccine.

A number of residents who received the vaccine later tested positive for Covid-19, after picking up the virus during the period where they were still susceptible ahead of their second vaccine dose. Three of the residents who have died with Covid-19 had contracted the virus after receiving their first vaccine dose.

“We’ve been Covid free up to January 11th. We were devastated when it came when it did… I don’t have any words,” Mr McNamara said. The impact of the outbreak had been “horrendous” on the nursing home residents and staff, he said.

At present 25 of the 63 staff in the nursing home are out sick due to Covid-19, with the facility trying to cope with a major shortage of nursing staff, he said. The staff members who were still on duty had been working 60-hour weeks, he said.

Hospital Report

Confirmed cases in hospital Confirmed cases in ICU
297 63

Mr McNamara said the nursing home was under serious “pressure” to find nursing staff, and was trying to secure additional nurses from agencies.

A number of volunteers from the local community had been “fantastic” in coming to the aid of the nursing home, including a number of retired nurses, Mr McNamara said. In another instance a personal fitness trainer was voluntarily working as a healthcare assistant.

The nursing home was extremely grateful for the volunteers “who were willing to put their own health at risk” to assist during the outbreak, he said.

“People in the community with other businesses, they all just downed tools. We have put the shoulder to the wheel, everyone is giving it all to try and save as many lives as we can,” he said.

In Louth, Blackrock Abbey nursing home said it was “deeply saddened” by the latest deaths there.

“Thankfully we have been able to ensure family members had time with their loved one in advance of their passing, which we know has been of some comfort,” said the nursing home.

“Our thoughts are very much with the bereaved families at this most difficult time.”

About 20 residents at the home who were vaccinated on January 19th are awaiting their second dose of the vaccine, up to 28 days later, during the week beginning February 15th.

The vaccinated resident who died from Covid-19 contracted the virus two days after receiving the first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and died a week later.

The first dose only starts providing protection about 12 days after being administered and is 52 per cent effective after the first jab, rising to 95 per cent seven days after the second jab.

“Whilst almost all of our residents who contracted the virus have completed their period of isolation, we remain cautious and are in regular contact with relatives with each resident being monitored closely for any change in condition,” said Blackrock Abbey in a statement.

“We will continue to maintain full staffing cover on all shifts with a large number of our existing staff having returned to work,” said the care facility.

‘Mop-up vaccinations’

According to new guidelines issued on vaccinating care facilities missed in the first round of vaccinations, HSE vaccinators will only visit nursing homes with Covid-19 outbreaks where there are at least six residents or at least three residents and at least nine staff members to be vaccinated.

The guidelines state that where there are fewer than this number to be vaccinated in care facilities with outbreaks or where residents missed the first dose due to being sick with Covid-19, the residents will be vaccinated at a weekly “vaccination hub” run by the local HSE community health organisation (CHO) outside the nursing home between day 21 and 28 after the first dose.

Nursing homes have also been told that “mop-up vaccinations” – first doses to nursing home residents who missed them due to a Covid-19 outbreak or illness – should only take place on the day of second-dose vaccinations in circumstances where there is excess vaccine.

This would take place where, for example, there is an available seventh dose from a vial, which ordinarily yield six doses, or where a resident or staff member has been diagnosed with Covid-19 since their first dose and has to wait for the second dose.

“Dose wastage must be minimised, so any mop-up done on site must ensure that the maximum number of doses can be extracted from the vial,” state the guidelines, which are designed to maximise doses and resources.

“This means that minimum numbers of persons to be vaccinated must be available to support any mop-up vaccination.”

Anyone with Covid-19 cannot be vaccinated until four weeks after their infection.

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