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Four wards at University Hospital Limerick remain affected by an outbreak of COVID-19 as it currently has the highest number of positive inpatients in the country.

An escalation of visiting restrictions to all inpatient wards at UHL has been announced by UL Hospitals Group following a meeting of the hospital crisis management team on Tuesday

Restrictions on visits to the Emergency Department, Acute Surgical Assessment Unit, and Acute Medical Assessment Unit at UHL also remain in force.

Appropriate infection control precautions are being followed to minimise the risk of spreading infection among staff and patients within our health facilities, and also within the wider community, a spokesperson for UL Hospitals Group told The Clare Echo.

Parents visiting children in hospital, people assisting “confused patients” such as those with dementia and compassionate grounds like critically unwell or end of life patients are the only exceptions to the visiting ban.

All these exemptions are limited to one person per patient only. “In cases where these exemptions apply, we strongly recommend that members of the public are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before visiting UHL to minimise any risks to our patients and to visitors themselves. We are also appealing to members of the public not to visit their relatives/loved ones outdoors on the grounds of the hospital as this can also present a Covid-19 transmission risk”.

Record volumes of patients continue to attend the emergency department, a pattern that has been sustained over a number of months.

Under the escalation plan, additional ward rounds are in place plus an acceleration of discharges and identifying patients for transfer to our Model 2 hospitals. Surge capacity has opened in Ennis Hospital, Nenagh Hospital and UHL to meet the current demand and scheduled care remains under review.

Noreen Spillane, Chief Operations Officer, UL Hospitals Group acknowledged that the visiting restrictions were “difficult on patients but they are now necessary as we look to reduce footfall at UHL and reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19. We have the highest number of Covid-positive inpatients in the country at present and we continue to experience a surge in emergency presentations. We are sorry to any of our patients experiencing long wait times for a bed at present.

“Our focus is now on managing the current outbreak and protecting patient pathways for those who need emergency care as well as patients scheduled to come in for surgery, for diagnostic investigations and for outpatient appointments, many of whom have already faced delayed access to care due to the pandemic.”

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