Covid-19 testing will be ramped up and additional staff will be provided to speed up turnaround times in Cork, according to the HSE area crisis management team for Cork and Kerry.
With Level Five restrictions coming into effect from midnight on Wednesday, the team said it will continue to make available every resource necessary to stop the spread of the virus.
This includes additional Covid-19 testing at a new pop-up test site on the Douglas Road and the recruitment of additional staff for the testing system to allow for faster turnaround times.
Meanwhile, the team said that regional community response teams are providing ongoing support to private nursing homes in the region, and precautions are in place in all healthcare settings so that vital health services can still be provided.
The crisis management team moved to reassure the public that health services across the region will remain open, and said no one should delay seeking advice from any healthcare professional if it’s needed.
Anyone with an appointment should presume that appointment is going ahead unless they are told otherwise.
Chair of the HSE Area Crisis Management Team Michael Fitzgerald, said:
“We know that this re-introduction of restrictions will be difficult for the people of the region.
“However, we also know that taking action now is in everyone’s best interests.
“We know this is difficult, but we have suppressed this virus in the past and we can do it again if we work together,” he added.
“We in Cork Kerry Community Healthcare are prioritising the smooth running of the testing system.
“Appointments for tests are arranged very quickly, and the test itself is very fast.” Acting Director of Public Health for the region, Dr Anne Sheehan, appealed to the public to isolate at home if they have any symptoms of Covid-19, and to present for testing if they are asked to do so.
Dr Sheahan said that there is a clear trend in both Cork and Kerry in recent weeks of outbreaks linked to various workplaces, and reminded those designated as essential workers to make sure that they are protecting themselves and others while at work.
“This is now even more important than ever for those designated as essential workers as they cannot continue their work if they become close contacts of confirmed cases.” Dr Sheahan also stressed the importance of self-isolation for anyone who is referred for a Covid-19 test, waiting for the result of such a test or has a positive Covid-19 test.
“If you are a close contact of a confirmed case of Covid-19, it is incredibly important that you come to the tests arranged for you.
“You may feel well but it is possible that you have the virus and are spreading it without knowing.
“Isolating when you are asked to do so, and completing two tests is the best way to be certain that you are not unwittingly spreading the virus,” she added.
Gerry O’Dwyer, CEO of the South South West Hospital Group said:
“The recent Government decision to move to Level Five of Covid-19 restrictions provides a clear roadmap for everyone to follow in order to defeat the virus.
“However, while we await the impact of the restrictions which will hopefully ease pressure on our hospitals, we are appealing once again to members of the public who may be feeling unwell to contact your GP, the nearest urgent care centre or out-of-hours GP service before presenting at emergency departments.
“All our hospitals have clear pathways in place so that people can access the care they need, when they need it, but need the public’s support to ensure this access to patient care is not overwhelmed.”