13 Covid patients in intensive care in Limerick as face masks roll out in primary schools

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by David Raleigh

THIRTEEN Covid-19 patients were in Intensive Care at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) as face masks were rolled out in primary schools for third class pupils to try to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

UHL had the third highest number of Covid patients in the country (49), yesterday (December 1), behind Beaumont (51) and the Mater (67).

A further nine suspected Covid cases were being monitored as the hospital had only two remaining Intensive Care/High Dependency beds available.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Health Mid West said 4,453 covid cases had been identified in the region over the past 14 days.

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The majority of these cases (1,988) were in Limerick, followed by Clare (1,388 cases), and North Tipperary (1,077).

While more general beds were becoming available at UHL (there were 10 beds available this Wednesday), the Emergency Department continued to battle chaotic scenes, reliable sources said.

There were 66 patients on trolleys across the ED and wards, the highest number in the country, according to data released Wednesday morning by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO).

Colette Cowan, chief executive of the UL Hospital’s Group, last week said projections of up to 200,000 cases of the virus in December “would cause the collapse of the health service”.

Dr Catherine Motherway, the head of Intensive Care at UHL, told RTÉ that, at national level, based on projections in recent days “we don’t have enough ICU nurses to staff ICU beds”.

There were 130 UL Hospitals Group staff off work due to the virus in the past week.

Children aged between five and 11 can begin to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 jab from December 13 in the EU, German health minister Jens Spahn confirmed this Wednesday.

The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (Niac) will have to grant approval to the move before the vaccination programme can begin in this age cohort.

It’s reported this age group will receive two doses of the vaccine.

In a letter to schools this Wednesday, Limerick native and Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said he welcomed the European Medicines Agency (EMA) authorisation of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for primary school going children.