A CONSULTANT who has been working at the frontline of the Covid-19 outbreak in Cork has pleaded with people to remain vigilant and to continue to follow measures to reduce the risk of the spread virus over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Dr Corinna Sadlier, a consultant in infectious diseases at Cork University Hospital (CUH) said that while the volume of Covid-19 cases being reported in Cork has remained stable, there was still potential for this to increase.
The latest figures show that 1,563 cases of Covid-19 had been reported in Cork up to July 28, with just 23 of these cases reported in the last month.
On Thursday, for the first time in months, there was not a single patient with confirmed Covid-19 receiving care at either CUH or the Mercy University Hospital in Cork.
In fact, an analysis of the HSE’s Daily Operations Updates shows that there has not been a patient with Covid-19 at CUH for two weeks.
The hospital said that it was continuing to take measures to reduce the impact and spread of Covid.
“Safer care pathways are being maintained and strict visiting restrictions remain in place at Cork University Hospital,” a spokesperson said.
Dr Sadlier said that while the hospital is busy, things are stable.
“Things are very stable in the hospital and they have been for a number of weeks,” she said. The consultant outlined how some patients with Covid-19 require long stays, especially if they are critically ill or unwell, and said that while the hospital has not had any patients with Covid-19 in around two weeks, that it has been a number of weeks since the last time a patient with Covid-19 was actually admitted to the hospital.
“The last new admissions for Covid were at the end of May and the last patient who had been admitted with Covid was discharged in the last two weeks,” she said.
While there have been some more significant increases in Covid-19 cases being confirmed in other parts of the country, Dr Sadlier said the case numbers here have also been stable.
“There are small numbers of cases being seen, but they are in a younger age group. We’re not seeing people coming in who are requiring hospital care for Covid — that reflects what’s happening nationally,” she explained.
There is however continued concern that some of the cases being identified relate to community transmission.
“We are still seeing cases of community transmission that we can’t explain nationally and that’s the real worry,” she said.
Given this, Dr Sadlier said she was urging people to continue to be cautious, especially over the Bank Holiday weekend and said while people may be sick of hearing the guidance that it is still important that people “don’t take any risks, that they avoid crowded situations, and that they maintain social distancing” warning that “the potential for things to escalate is there as long as community transmission”.
The increasing number of cases being reported across Europe is also a cause for concern, as is the quickly approaching flu season.
“Everyone is worried about the winter and winter planning is actively ongoing in the hospital,” said Dr Sadlier.
“The capacity to carry out elective or semi-elective work, that is very necessary, that needs to be maintained if we do see a further increase in cases. Hopefully, it won’t be like the last time or the surge, that we’ll be able to control it because we have controlled it before,” she said.
Dr Sadlier said there were some notable differences in how Covid-19 is approached now compared with earlier on in the outbreak.
“In terms of testing, we were testing people who were very sick at the start of this. You had to meet certain criteria and now we are actively screening contacts,” she said.
The infectious disease consultant said she was hopeful that there would be a higher uptake of the flu vaccine this year and pointed out that children will also now be vaccinated against flu.
“Unlike Covid, children do tend to be vectors for flu,” she said.
“We had one of our worst flu seasons last year. We had upwards of 80 patients in and around December and January in the hospital with flu and secondary bacterial pneumonia “We really need to optimise what we can do in terms of mitigating risk for people to come into hospital,” Dr Sadlier added.
The consultant said anyone in an at risk group should also be getting the pneumococcal vaccine.
“You’d be very hopeful that we might not have such a severe flu season next year, but I suppose only time will tell.
“We have to be prepared either way,” she said.