HSE Mid West Community Healthcare and UL Hospitals Group urges public to avoid household visits and social gatherings for St Patrick’s Day

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THE Department of Public Health Mid-West, HSE Mid West Community Healthcare, and UL Hospitals Group are strongly urging people in Limerick, Clare, and North Tipperary to avoid any form of social gathering this St Patrick’s Day, as we continue to manage a high rate of multi-household outbreaks as a result of social mixing.

 Public Health Mid-West is currently investigating more than 55* household situations, involving at least two cases each, across the Mid-West region since March 1. 

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 These “situations” are in households where a more in-depth Public Health risk assessment has been undertaken because of either having a suspected or confirmed outbreak.

 Appended to this statement is a visual example of a complex community outbreak of more than 20 cases, occurring as a direct result of social mixing among multiple households, which occurred in the Mid-West region in recent months.

 Each household was exposed to other settings, including workplaces and extended families, resulting in further spread of infection outside the household.

 One household cluster was linked to a workplace outbreak of more than five cases, which then spread to the household of a staff member, resulting in a family outbreak.

 Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: “Many will feel that a once-off social visit to a friend or family member might be harmless, but if small gatherings occur on a regional scale across a number of communities, this could be the start of another serious community outbreak.

 “The people of Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary have shown great resolve in suppressing the virus after a challenging two months that resulted in significant levels of illness and death. We owe it to our most vulnerable to continue following the Public Health guidelines, so we can give them a chance to be vaccinated.”

 HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare Chief Officer, Maria Bridgeman said:“Concurring with my colleagues in public health and the acute hospitals, it is vital we adhere to Public Health advice this St Patrick’s Day. It’s really important that we all stay local, celebrate virtually, do not travel around the country and do not mix households.

 “The efforts we have all made are making an impact as we see infection rates drop. Combined with the roll out of the vaccination programme it gives us reason to be hopeful as we approach St Patrick’s Day and head into Easter, but it remains vital the public continue to play their part to save lives. Please keep a distance of two metres between you and anyone outside of your household; wash your hands regularly and wear a face mask to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.”

 UL Hospitals Group CEO Colette Cowan stated: “It’s important for the people of the Mid-West to hold firm to the public health guidance that has helped to hold back the spread of COVID-19 in our communities over the past two months.”

 “We ask the people of the Mid-West to celebrate St Patrick’s Day without any one-off visits to friends or family this year. It’s a big ask for people who have already given so much, but we have to continue doing everything we can to prevent another COVID surge of the kind that resulted in such significant illness, hospitalisations and death this January and February,” Ms Cowan said.