Coronavirus: Four people test positive in Cork and Waterford

Waterford case was an inpatient who had initially ‘not met the case definition’ for Covid-19

The patient had been an inpatient at University Hospital Waterford   in a medical ward as they had ‘not met the case definition’ for Covid-19 at the time.

The patient had been an inpatient at University Hospital Waterford in a medical ward as they had ‘not met the case definition’ for Covid-19 at the time.

 

Occupational health experts are to contact all staff at University Hospital Waterford on Wednesday after a patient tested positive at the hospital, its first confirmed case of Covid-19.

The hospital’s general manager Grace Rothwell confirmed in an email to all staff on Tuesday evening that the National Virus Reference Laboratory had informed the hospital that it had a confirmed case of Covid-19.

According to Ms Rothwell in her email sent to all 2,290 staff, the patient had been an inpatient in a medical ward as they had “not met the case definition” for Covid-19 at the time.

However, a decision was taken on March 9th to test the patient for Covid-19 and once confirmation of the virus was received the patient was transferred to an isolation room in the Pine Ward.

The Pine Ward is a ward at the 381 bed hospital which was specifically opened to facilitate the isolation and care of patients either suspected or confirmed Covid-19, Ms Rothwell explained in her email.

Meanwhile, a third Cork hospital has confirmed it is dealing with Covid-19 after three patients tested positive and were admitted as inpatients.

Both Cork University Hospital and the Bons Secours in Cork had already confirmed they were treating patients with confirmed cases of Covid-19 but, on Wednesday, Mercy University Hospital (MUH) also confirmed cases of the virus.

In a statement, MUH said it was treating “three inpatients, who have tested positive for Covid 19, all associated with travel to an infected region.”

“These patients were diagnosed in the community and had a co-ordinated, planned admission to MUH. The patients are in a dedicated room in the hospital where they are receiving appropriate care.”

According to an MUH source, the three in-patients are being treated together in the dedicated room because they had all been away together but the dedicated room has been isolated from the rest of the hospital.

“The correct protective measures have been used at all times by all staff involved in caring for these patients,” said the MUH in its statement before referring any further queries to the HSE.

The Irish Times understands that the three in-patients, all male, had returned from a skiing holiday abroad last week and began feeling unwell which in turn led their best tested for the virus and their planned admission to the MUH.

On Wednesday afternoon, HSE chief executive Paul Reid tweeted: “We are entering a new phase in #Covid19. I fully support our hospitals who have to make decisions on restricting visitors based on clinical risk, patient and public safety. Please do as we urge and our ask will increase as we progress.

‘Anxious time’

At Waterford, Ms Rothwell said: “We are following the guidance of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre and our Public Health colleagues in the management of contacts, for both staff and patients.

“We recognise that this is an anxious time for staff, patients and relatives. Line Managers have contacted all staff identified as working in the relevant clinical areas and have shared specific advice.

“Occupational Health will contact each individual staff member tomorrow. Public Health colleagues will contact all patients identified as contacts. A 24hr Staff Care Helpline is in operation and available for staff - 1800-409-388.

“Please be aware that it remains of vital importance that we continue to be vigilant and follow correct infection prevention and control practices and in particular the correct hand hygiene practices.”

A spokesperson for the HSE South Hospital Group referred any media queries regarding the case to the HSE Press Office but a HSE spokeswoman said that they did not comment on individual cases of Covid-19.

It is expected that the Waterford case will be included in the cases discussed at a press briefing by Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tony Holohan on Wednesday evening when he may say how the HSE believe the patient contracted the virus.

It is understood the three cases in MUH were already included in the 10 cases reported by the Department of Health on Tuesday, although this will not be confirmed until Wednesday evening.

Tuesday’s figure was the largest daily rise since the virus was first detected in the State at the end of last month, and brought the total number to by 34. The number of cases in Northern Ireland increased by two to 18 on Wednesday.

The emergency team also announced plans for a massive increase in testing for coronavirus, with hospital laboratories in Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford set to start testing for the illness.

These will back up the National Virus Reference Laboratory at University College Dublin and mean that thousands of cases a week can be processed in future. The number of suspected cases tested last week increased to 1,784, up from 297 a week earlier.