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Wednesday 21 February 2018

Got the flu? Just stay at home and don't pass on the misery - doctors

St James's Hospital
St James's Hospital
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Doctors are warning that most people who get the flu should stay at home and not risk infecting others.

Only people with serious underlying issues, such as heart disease treatments that lower the immune system, or cancer, HIV and Hepatitis C, will need hospitalisation, said Prof Patrick Plunkett, medical director of St James's Hospital in Dublin.

St James's, along with Cork University Hospital and the Mercy Hospital in Cork, is fighting flu outbreaks in a number of wards and have imposed visitor restrictions.

People at home who believe they may have the flu are advised to first contact their GP by phone, rather than visit the surgery or hospital emergency department, to get the best advice.

A spokeswoman for St James's Hospital said planned admissions are severely curtailed, to allow for a small volume of time-critical admissions. The intensive care unit remains closed to planned surgical cases.

"Out-patient, day ward and diagnostic services will operate today as normal. The public are urged to continue to co-operate with the ward visiting restrictions until further notice."

"Any person with flu-like illness is urged to remain at home and to contact their GP by telephone for advice," she added.

Visiting restrictions also remain in place at Cork University Hospital and the Mercy Hospital in Cork, although all services continue.

The spread of flu remains relatively low but it has been complicated this year by the failure of the vaccine to provide full protection against the most dominant strain which is circulating. This strain particularly affects older people who may be susceptible even if they got the winter jab.

Emergency

The need not to admit patients to a number of wards will mean fewer beds available to people who need to be moved from emergency departments this week, leading to more overcrowding and longer delays on trolleys.

Meanwhile, figures released to Fine Gael Senator Colm Burke show that a quarter of emergency visit charges have been left unpaid.

"In a time of increased financial pressure on our health system and hospitals, it is outrageous that more than €2.25m in emergency department charges have been left outstanding," Senator Burke said.

"This money could be efficiently used in other financially pressed healthcare areas such as homecare or hospice care."

Irish Independent

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