AROUND 4,000 staff and residents in long-term residential care settings in the Republic have been tested for Covid-19 in recent days amid concerns about infection clusters.
HSE chief executive Paul Reid said 2,000 tests were completed on Saturday, with the rest carried out on Sunday.
A survey of mortality rates among residents in care facilities, which include nursing homes, mental health and disability services, is being conducted this weekend to give health authorities a fuller picture of the impact of Covid-19.
Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer at the HSE, said: “In the first instance, as we’ve seen in some of the cases during the week, the residents are in a particularly vulnerable setting.
“This virus is highly transmissible, and it carries a particularly high morbidity and mortality among older, frailer people.
“Secondly, the presentation in such people is sometimes unusual. Some typical in terms of fever or cough or respiratory symptoms, it can also present with somebody not eating properly, or reduced mobility. Those who are already immobile are extremely frail — the signs are so subtle it’s undetectable.”
A nursing home in East Cork is piloting remote temperature-checking software that can detect early Covid-19 warning symptoms in staff.
The software being piloted in Oaklodge Nursing Home was developed by 8 West Consulting, with the College of Medicine and Health at UCC), The ASSERT centre, and Tyndall Institute at UCC.
The Covid-19 Remote Early Warning System remotely checks the temperature of staff with a digital sensor. An alarm is triggered if their temperature gets too high.
Oaklodge Nursing Home owner Diarmuid Ó Dálaigh said: “Covid-19 presents unparalleled challenges for nursing home staffing throughout the country, so technology like this that helps to protect our frontline workers is critical.
“Thankfully, we currently have no coronavirus cases, and hope that this will help to continue to protect our staff and residents alike.”