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Coronavirus: Visitor restrictions at more than 20 hopsitals

Strict visitor restrictions have been implemented in more than 20 hospitals around the country due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The South/South West Hospital Group, UL Hospitals Group and Saolta Group have all implemented visitor bans and restrictions.

In total, 21 health facilities are affected.

The news comes as up to 60 healthcare workers at Cork University Hospital (CUH) have been asked to self-isolate and all nursing homes nationwide have banned visitors.

It follows the confirmation of coronavirus in a male patient several days after his admission to CUH for symptoms linked to a serious underlying health condition.

The man had no history of travel to affected areas in Northern Italy and had no known contact with another confirmed case.

It is the first case of community transmission of the virus in Ireland. There are currently 13 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Ireland.

The South/South West Hospital Group said visitor restrictions have been introduced "with immediate effect" due to infection control concerns.

The hospitals where these restrictions have been implemented are:

  • Cork University Hospital
  • Cork University Maternity Hospital
  • University Hospital Kerry
  • University Hospital Waterford
  • South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital
  • Mercy University Hospital
  • Bantry General Hospital
  • Mallow General Hospital

In a statement, South/South West Hospital Group said the restrictions are "in the interest of patient care and in order to prevent the spread of infection".

It added: "Anyone with any queries about visiting times or visiting a particular hospital should ring the respective hospital directly.

"Management at the South/South West Hospital Group have requested that where appropriate the public contact their GP/Out of Hours service in the first instance and explore all other options available to them prior to presenting to Emergency Departments if their needs are not urgent."

A visiting ban has also been introduced at all six health facilities run by the UL Hospitals Group.

The group said that the sites affected by their visitors' ban are:

  • University Hospital Limerick
  • University Maternity Hospital Limerick
  • St John’s Hospital
  • Nenagh Hospital
  • Ennis Hospital
  • Croom Orthopaedic Hospital.

"We regret any distress or inconvenience these extraordinary measures will cause to patients and their loved ones," the statement said.

"These measures are being taken in order to minimise any spread of infection within our hospital sites."

There are exceptions to the ban, which are:

  • Parents visiting children in hospital
  • Partners of women attending University Maternity Hospital Limerick
  • People visiting patients at end-of-life
  • People assisting confused patients (e.g. dementia)
  • People visiting patients in Critical Care

The hospitals group said the exemptions are limited to one person per patient only.

"Please note that the ban on visitors also applies to patients attending the Emergency Department at University Hospital Limerick and the Injury Units in Ennis, Nenagh and St John’s," the statement continued.

"We are appealing to members of the public to co-operate with these necessary restrictions.

"We are also urging the public to keep the Emergency Department for emergencies only; a place where priority is given to the seriously injured and ill and those whose lives may be at risk."

All elective surgeries and outpatient appointments at the six facilities have also been cancelled for next Monday and Tuesday.

The Saolta Group group are also implementing visiting restrictions at all of their hospitals in the north-west from today.

The hospitals affected are:

  • University Hospital Galway
  • Merlin Park University Hospital
  • Portiuncula University Hospital
  • Roscommon University Hospital
  • Mayo University Hospital
  • Sligo University Hospital
  • Letterkenny University Hospital

A spokesperson for the Saolta Group said: "We are asking the public not to visit any hospital other than end of life situations and other exceptional circumstances as agreed with the ward manager in advance of visiting."

The spokesperson said to arrange a visit "families should telephone the hospital and request to speak to the relevant ward manager who will decide if a visit can be facilitated without compromising the welfare of the patients on the ward.

"Children in particular should not visit patients in hospital.

"We recognise that the visiting restrictions may be challenging for patients and their families, however, our priority must be to protect the patients in our hospitals who are vulnerable to infection.

"We would like to thank members of the public for their co-operation."

    Useful information

  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department - if this is not possible, phone 112 or 999 and in a medical emergency (if you have severe symptoms) phone 112 or 999

Earlier today, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said mass public gatherings such as St Patrick’s Day parades will not be cancelled amid the spread of Covid-19.

Speaking following a stakeholder meeting with health officials on Friday, he said: “We are not recommending at this stage that any major events be cancelled but this of course will be kept under review.”

The Government announced today that the Covid-19 Stakeholder Forum "was today provided with guidance to organisers and attendees of mass gatherings".

A statement said: "The Chief Medical Officer in the Department of Health has advised that the Covid-19 virus is still in containment phase.

"The current public health advice is that there is no reason to cancel any proposed mass gatherings including the St. Patrick’s Day Festival."