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‘Galway one of few counties where cases are growing’ – rapid surge in Covid cases causing alarm

HSE, Garda Síochána and council issue joint appeal to public after tenfold increase in infection rate compared to first wave

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Cases are 'currently high' in Galway city, Tuam and Oranmore, one public health official said. Photo: Ben Birchall /PA Wire

Cases are 'currently high' in Galway city, Tuam and Oranmore, one public health official said. Photo: Ben Birchall /PA Wire

Cases are 'currently high' in Galway city, Tuam and Oranmore, one public health official said. Photo: Ben Birchall /PA Wire

A RAPID increase in Covid-19 infection rates in Galway has caused growing alarm among health professionals.

The county has recorded a tenfold increase in Covid-19 daily infection compared to the first wave.

The situation prompted a joint appeal by the HSE, An Garda Síochána and local government to the public to stay vigilant and halt community transmission.

The three principal agencies came together to highlight the gravity of the public health risk in Galway, one of the few counties in the country where infection rates are continuing to rise.

Over the last two weeks, nearly 2,800 new cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in the region.

As of Tuesday, 129 patients with Covid-19 are being treated in Galway University Hospital (GUH), and of those, 11 are in intensive care.

At the peak of the first wave, the highest number of patients in GUH with Covid-19 at any one time was 18.

A public health official has told the Irish Independent the toll of the community transmission is being felt most acutely and tragically in nursing home settings.

Dr Breda Smyth, Director of Public Health West, said cases are currently high in Galway city, Tuam and Oranmore.

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“Galway is one of the few counties in the country where the cases number continue to grow; the 14-day incidence rate is now 1,082 cases per 100,000," Dr Smyth said.

"This means infection is everywhere in the community. In particular, the case rate is currently high in Tuam, Galway city and Oranmore.

“We need to recognise the risk that is around us. Remember that every person we meet is an infection risk, and we need to stay apart.

"The only way that we can halt the spread of this disease within our community and force a downward trajectory is to go the extra mile. We need to stay in our homes and gardens and not have any visitors to our homes.

“Also, it is really important that anyone with symptoms calls their GP for a free consultation and self-isolates correctly by staying in their room to prevent the spread of the virus within the household, among loved ones.”

Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta Group, which is responsible for the hospitals in the west and north-west, said: “Unfortunately we have a lot of very sick people in Galway and Portiuncula University Hospitals. The situation is likely to continue or worsen over the coming weeks. We are dealing with a huge increase in admissions and a significant strain on capacity.”

“Our focus, across all hospitals in the Saolta Group, is to ensure that safe, quality and prompt healthcare can continue despite sustained pressure,” he said.

"However, we are asking the public to please do what you can to help save lives, adhere to public health measures, please stay at home and limit your contacts as every effort you make counts.”

General Manager of Galway University Hospital Chris Kane said the hospital is under “significant pressure”.

“We are seeing a very concerning rise in COVID-19 cases in the Galway community, over the last two weeks nearly 2,800 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in the region," Ms Kane said.

"We currently have 129 patients with Covid-19 in hospital and 11 being treated in our intensive care unit. At the peak of the first wave, the highest number of patients in our hospital with Covid-19 at any one time was 18.

“We know that seven to 10 days after diagnosis, we will see the impact of an increase in cases in the hospital setting, so we are preparing for an escalation in admissions over the next days and weeks.

“The hospital is under significant pressure, but we are coping thanks to the tremendous efforts of our staff, many of whom are working additional hours to maintain high-quality services. Now, more than ever, is it vital that people stay at home and prevent the transmission of this virus.”

Elaine Prendergast, Head of Service for Older People in Community Healthcare West, added, “Our actions have consequences, and by doing the right thing for ourselves we are protecting those closest to us and the wider community.

" Stay home when and where possible and continue to adhere to public health and Government advice.”


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