“Outbreak control team” established at University Hospital Limerick after staff member and patient test positive for COVID-19

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University Hospital Limerick

AN “Outbreak Control Team” has been established at University Hospital Limerick after one patient and one member of staff on a ward tested positive for coronavirus today, a hospital spokesman has confirmed.

The two confirmed cases of the virus involve a member of staff and a patient who were both on Ward 3B this Tuesday.

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“Contact tracing and testing is currently underway and all appropriate infection prevention and control measures are being followed in line with the national HPSC guidance,” a UHL spokesman said.

“A number of staff from the ward at the centre of what we believe to be a localised outbreak have been identified as contacts. They have been asked to stay off work and to self-isolate in line with national guidance.”

The hospital said that it had completed “initial testing of all patient contacts” and this “has not identified further cases”.

“Initial testing of all staff contacts is expected to be complete tomorrow, Wednesday, August 19. All patients on the ward in question have been informed of the outbreak,” the spokesman said.

Chief Operations Manager, UL Hospitals Group, Noreen Spillane said that “hospitals have been preparing for these situations for many months and we have now established an Outbreak Control Team to put into operation our measures to protect the safety of patients and staff and to protect public health more generally”.

“This is the first outbreak of Covid-19 to have occurred in UHL since the start of the pandemic. This is unfortunate but we have every reason to believe that this is a limited outbreak that is contained in the ward in question,” Ms Spillane said.

UL Hospitals Group urged patients to assist it “by continuing to follow public health advice and to continuing to co-operate with the visiting restrictions across all six of our hospitals”.

Exceptions to the visitor restriction rules (with a strict limit of one visitor per patient) include:

·         Parents visiting children in hospital

·         People visiting patients at end-of-life

·         People assisting confused patients (e.g. dementia)

Today, there were 43 patients waiting on trolleys in the hospital

A UL Hospitals Group spokesman said today’s “outbreak” at UHL “occurs at a time when emergency presentations to the ED in UHL have been exceeding pre-pandemic levels”.

“The Emergency Department is very busy at present with high volumes of patients attending, including many frail elderly patients requiring admission, we again ask that patients consider all their care options before presenting to the department,” the spokesman said.

“Injury units in Ennis and Nenagh are open from 8am to 8pm, and St John’s is open from 8am to 7pm. Injury Units are for the treatment of broken bones, dislocations, sprains strains, wounds, scalds and minor burns.”

“Members of the public with a less serious illness can contact  their GP or out of hours GP service. Patients with symptoms of COVID -19 must contact their GP by phone in the first instance and not present in person at the GP surgery or the ED, however, if you are seriously injured or ill or are worried your life is at risk the ED will assess and treat you as a priority.”