NI hospitals endure ‘extreme pressure’ of Covid as nine deaths reported

Health authorities warn of ongoing impact on queues at emergency departments

People queuing for a Covid-19 vaccination clinic  near the SSE Arena in Belfast earlier this week. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

People queuing for a Covid-19 vaccination clinic near the SSE Arena in Belfast earlier this week. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

 

Hospitals in the North are coming under “extreme pressure” as nine more deaths linked to Covid-19 were reported.

The total death toll in the region since the start of the pandemic has reached 2,352, according to Stormont’s Department of Health on Sunday.

A further 1,225 people with the virus have been identified, bringing the overall number of reported infections to 198,088 since the outbreak began.

While the number of fresh cases reported over a 24-hour period up to Sunday afternoon was down from 1,430 on Saturday, health authorities warned of the ongoing impact on queues at emergency departments.

The South Eastern Trust said Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh in particular was struggling.

In a tweet, the trust said on Sunday the hospital’s emergency department “is really busy”, with 100 patients admitted and 45 people waiting to get in.

“Expect EXTREMELY long waiting times,” the trust said.

“Covid-19 [is] adding significantly to bed pressures and [the situation is] unlikely to improve soon.”

The trust said staff were working very hard to see all affected persons, but advised patients where possible to call out-of-hours GP services “for serious urgent problems”.

Also on Sunday, the South Eastern Trust appealed to the public on Twitter: “We need your help.” The emergency department at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, Co Down, was under “EXTREME pressure”, the trust said.

“If your condition isn’t urgent, PLEASE consider other options.”

On Saturday, the Western Trust said the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh was “very busy”, and urged patients with minor injuries to attend the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Centre in Co Tyrone.

There were 53 people waiting in the South West Acute Hospital emergency department on Saturday night, with 18 people waiting to be admitted.

Latest figures for patients with Covid-19 in the North’s hospitals, which were published on Friday, showed 383 people being treated for the disease. Of these, 45 were in intensive care.