Covid-19: Over a third of February deaths linked to nursing homes

Some 75 of the 195 deaths from the virus this month associated with care home facilities

More than one in three deaths from Covid-19 in February reported by the Department of Health have been associated with outbreaks in nursing homes.

There have been 195 deaths reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team this month, of which 75, or 38 per cent, were linked to nursing homes.

This is roughly the same proportion of deaths linked to nursing homes in January, when 451 of the 1,202 overall deaths reported were associated with outbreaks in those settings.

Hospital Report

There have been 199 outbreaks in nursing homes in the third wave of the pandemic, with the number of outbreaks still spreading as infections remain high within the community. Once community hospitals and long-term care facilities are included, the number rises to 216.

READ MORE

Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said he did not envisage mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations when asked about reports of some nursing home staff declining to take the jab.

Managers at two nursing homes in Dublin held raffles and offered cash prizes to encourage staff to get the vaccine after 36 of 170 staff declined them, Newstalk reported.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said it was "inexcusable" that some nursing home staff were refusing to take the vaccine and pointed to a high take-up across the care home sector: almost 100 per cent among residents and in the "high 90s" for staff.

High uptake

Dr Lucy Jessop, director of the HSE's National Immunisation Office, said that up to 74,000 residents and staff in nursing homes had received the vaccine, which was a "very high uptake".

Individual care facilities continue to be badly affected by the pandemic.

West Kerry Community Hospital, in Dingle, has recorded the deaths of 10 residents during a Covid-19 outbreak, nine of whom tested positive for the disease.

The local HSE division in the southwest, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, said a significant number of residents and staff at the Dingle care home were still affected by Covid-19, though many of the residents who tested positive were recovering well from the disease.

“This is an incredibly difficult time for families, for the community and for the staff caring for the residents,” said a spokeswoman for the local healthcare group.

The Dingle care facility has received the first dose of the two-dose Covid-19 vaccines, and all residents and staff who consented and were deemed medically fit were vaccinated that day.

“Every possible precaution has been taken and continues to be taken to keep residents and staff safe,” said the spokeswoman.

Covid-positive residents and staff cannot be vaccinated and must wait four weeks from the onset of symptoms before they can be vaccinated.

There are close to 50 outbreaks of the virus across Cork and Kerry in private nursing homes, community hospitals, disability centres and mental health services.

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