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Time to act as one


UNDER PRESURE Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary has said that the situation in Mayo University Hospital is very worrying for both patients and the staff.

•  Mayo Covid-19 cases for 2021 close to exceeding 2020 total
•  MUH under ‘unimaginable’ pressure as Covid cases still rising

Anton McNulty

With the number of Covid-19 cases in Mayo since the start of the year almost exceeding the total for 2020, health and civic leaders in the county have appealed for the public to stay at home.
The latest Covid-19 figures released by the Department of Health show that as of midnight Monday, January 11, Mayo experienced its worst day for Covid-19 cases in a single day with 466 new cases. Only Galway (604) and Dublin (574) registering more cases.
The rapid spread of Covid-19 in the community since Christmas is such that there have been nearly as many cases recorded in Mayo since the new year than there was in the whole of 2020. On December 31, the number of cases stood at 2,061 and following Monday's record high figure, the number now stands at 3,921.
In the last 14 days to January 11, there have been 2,095 confirmed cases in Mayo and the county now has a 14-day incidence rate per 100,000 population of 1,605.3. Only five counties in the Republic of Ireland have a worse infection rate than Mayo. Prior to Monday's record high figure, the highest number of cases in Mayo in a single day was on January 1 when 233 cases were recorded.
As the county reaches a critical phases in the latest wave of the pandemic, the HSE, An Garda Síochána and Mayo County Council are all calling on the people of the county to help prevent the spread of Covid-19
The three State agencies issued a joint statement in which they described the continued rise of Covid-19 cases in Mayo as ‘extremely concerning’ and that it is up to everyone to ‘to stay at home, protect themselves and each other and protect the health services’.

‘Very worrying’
Since the introduction of Level 5 restrictions on December 29, one in 62 people in Mayo has contracted Covid-19.
Dr Breda Smyth, HSE Director of Public Health in the West said these figures are very worrying. “I urge everyone in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon to join in a committed effort to stop the exponential growth of Covid-19 cases. This can be achieved by our individual and family behaviours. We must all stay at home and only leave our homes and gardens for essential items
and medicine. If you have symptoms, it is extremely important to self-isolate correctly, call your GP and prevent the spread of Covid-19 to loved ones with whom you live.
“Our hospitals and medical services are now under considerable pressure, which will worsen if we do not halt the spread of the virus in our communities. Stay at home and stay safe,” she said.
Dr Smyth said there is a worrying increase in the numbers of people being diagnosed in particular in Ballyhaunis, Ballina, Belmullet, Castlebar and Claremorris. From January 1 to January 10, there were 2,484 Covid-19 tests carried out at the MacHale Park test centre in Castlebar with another 4,314 in Galway and 1,276 in Roscommon.
The latest HSE figures show that as of Tuesday evening, there were 82 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Mayo University Hospital which will be welcome relief to the under-pressure hospital management and staff after 91 cases were recorded on Monday evening.
However, there are only two general beds available and Tony Canavan, CEO of the Saolta Group, which has responsibility for the hospitals in the west and northwest, added that it is inevitable that with the increase in community cases, more people will end up in hospital.
“It is inevitable that the higher level of Covid-19 infections in the community, the greater the pressure on the health services. The team at Mayo University Hospital are doing all they can to ensure that they can continue to treat both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients safely and quickly, but they need the community in Mayo to play their part also and stick to the public health advice and stay home where possible to reduce the levels of Covid-19 in the community.”

Stay at home
Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary said that the situation in the Castlebar hospital is very worrying for both patients and the staff, and that he has never seen it under so much pressure.
“In my 13 years as a TD I have never known the hospital to be as under as much pressure as I do at the moment. The health system in the county is under so enormous pressure, imaginable, at the moment and we all have to restrict our movements.
“This is very challenging and given the level of cases presented across the county in the last ten days, unfortunately the hospitalisation of those cases will peak in the coming days. We all have to act to stay at home and adhere to the guidelines. I know it is difficult, but for the sake of our hospitals and our medical professionals we have to stay at home,” he warned.
The Belmullet Electoral Area which covers the general Erris, Achill and Mulranny region of the county, is one of the worst affected areas of the county with 266 confirmed cases over 14 days up to January 4. That figure is expected to rise considerably when the latest figures are released later this week and in order to curtail the spread of the virus in the area, the Court Service cancelled both the Belmullet and Achill District Courts which were due to sit this week.
Chief Superintendent Tony Healy said the public should expect additional static checkpoints on national routes under Operation Fanacht, as well as continued engagement and high-visibility patrolling in public areas such as parks, beaches and other recreational areas.
“As a community based police service, Gardaí in Mayo will continue to maintain personal interactions and where needed we will continue to assist and support people. Local Gardaí are here to help. Whether that entails collecting prescription, or fuel, or providing a socially distanced chat. If you or someone you know requires assistance please do not hesitate to contact your local Garda station,” he said.
Acting-Chief Executive of Mayo County Council, Peter Duggan added that the Council’s Community Call line remains open seven days a week and is available for anyone who needs assistance on 096 9064660.
“It is incumbent upon all of us to step up and play our part. We know people of Mayo have track record in working together to get things done. This is our time to do just that. Mayo County Council will continue to work closely with the HSE and An Garda Síochána to combine our efforts in protecting Mayo people during this unsettling time of Covid-19,” he said.

*This article was updated on January 13, to reflect the latest Mayo figures.