The Government’s decision to move to Level 5 of Covid-19 restrictions from midnight on Wednesday, October 21st, will ease pressure on our hospitals, according to Gerry O’Dwyer, CEO of the South Southwest Hospital Group.
Mr O’Dwyer made the statement following several meetings by the HSE’s area crisis management team, which has put additional measures in place to help contain the spread of the coronavirus.
The HSE has established a new pop-up test site at Douglas Road in Cork city and additional staff has been engaged to allow the HSE to ‘ramp up’ its testing capacity significantly.
As a result, the health service predicts almost 95% of all referrals will now be able to access a same day or next morning test.
Furthermore, additional support from its community response teams will be provided to private nursing homes.
The HSE said the highest level of caution and preparedness will be observed in all healthcare settings so that vital health services may continue.
The health service is urging members of the public to immediately seek advice from any healthcare professional should they need it.
‘We know that this re-introduction of restrictions will be difficult for the people of the region,’ said Michael Fitzgerald, chairman of the crisis management team, ‘but we also know that taking action now is in everyone’s best interests.
Mr Fitzgerald said it will be difficult but 'we have suppressed the virus in the past and we can do it again if we work together.'
Anyone with any symptoms of the coronavirus is asked to ‘isolate at home,’ phone their GP to arrange a test, and to present for that test when they are asked to do so.
All those referred for a test, those who are waiting for a test result, and those who have been tested positive for Covid-19, must self-isolate.
Isolating when asked to do so, and the completion of two negative tests, is the best way to be certain you are not unwittingly spreading the virus, according to the HSE.
Because a high number of the recent outbreaks in Cork have been shown to relate to the workplace, it is recommended that people should, where possible, work from home, but for those designated as essential workers they should make sure they are protecting themselves and others at work.
The HSE underlined the importance of this saying, ‘Essential workers cannot continue their work if they become close contacts of confirmed cases.’
All of the health advice – including the 2m social distancing rule, the wearing of face masks, frequent and proper handwashing, and observing cough and sneeze etiquette – should apply in all scenarios including travelling to and from work, as well as during tea and lunch breaks.