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Clusters key to Mayo’s rising numbers

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HIGH NUMBERS Cllr Michael Kilcoyne said that it is his information that over 100 staff working in Mayo University Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19.

Call for detail on high number of Covid-19 cases in Mayo

Edwin McGreal

With Mayo having almost the same number of confirmed Covid-19 cases as counties Galway and Roscommon combined, a Mayo county councillor has called for greater accountability on cases in the county.
Cllr Michael Kilcoyne, a member of the west’s HSE Regional Forum, was speaking after the Saolta Hospital Group last night told The Mayo News that most of the cases in Mayo centre around clusters and outbreaks.
“The HSE’s Public Health Department in the west has identified a number of clusters/outbreaks in Mayo which most of the confirmed cases are associated with.
“While we have evidence of local transmission as a result of these outbreaks there is no evidence of widespread community transmission,” said a spokesperson for Saolta, the hospital group for the west and north west of the country.
The spokesperson also said county by county comparisons are, at this stage, ‘of little value’.
“While these figures are important in the management of our response, it is too early in the progress of this pandemic to draw any conclusions regarding incidence and comparisons between various locations based on these low numbers are of little value,” they said.
However, Cllr Kilcoyne said that based on population and Mayo’s low population density, Mayo figures should be much lower and he expressed concern about the management of the situation at Mayo University Hospital.
“They have not been careful enough with preventing the cross contamination between wards at the hospital. Tony Canavan, the Chief Executive of Saolta, admitted on Midwest Radio on Friday that there was movement of staff from Covid wards to non-Covid wards in the hospital in recent weeks up until last Tuesday. My information is that this was still happening last Thursday and Friday.
“None of this should have happened. It doesn’t appear to be happening anywhere else in the Saolta group. Why is it happening in Mayo?
“It is very clear that Mayo University Hospital is a cluster and this needs to be acknowledged. I’m not interested in apportioning blame at this point; I want it sorted and it is up to Saolta to sort it,” he said.
Cllr Kilcoyne said that it is his information that over 100 staff at Mayo University Hospital have tested positive for Covid-19. When this question was put to Saolta, they responded by saying: “Across all health services nationally, including Mayo, there are health care workers who have acquired Covid-19. Internationally, it would appear that approximately 25 percent of all confirmed cases of Covid-19 are among healthcare workers.”
They said this was due to a greater exposure to the virus and higher testing ratios.
Cllr Kilcoyne also said he was concerned that some staff members at the hospital were being urged to remain at work despite having symptoms of Covid-19.
Responding to this, Saolta said: “The management of cases and close contacts in a hospital setting is in accordance with the latest relevant guidance on the HPSC website. Symptomatic staff are advised not to come to work, in line with guidance. Support and guidance is available to healthcare workers who have been tested and are awaiting results, those who are confirmed cases and their contacts. Many staff who tested positive early on are already back at work.”
Mayo’s cases are the highest number in Connacht, with 2.4 percent of overall cases in the country and has the eighth highest rate in the country, behind Dublin, Cork, Kildare, Louth, Meath, Cavan and Wicklow.
When population is taken into account, the incidence rate for Mayo per 100,000 population is higher than any other county in Connacht or Munster.
The number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mayo now stands at 464. The figure, measured at midnight last Saturday, was published yesterday evening by the Department of Health.
Mayo remains the hardest-hit county in Connaught ahead of Galway on 335, Roscommon 135, Sligo 114 and Leitrim 66.