21 Covid-19 cases at Craigavon Hospital confirmed

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Craigavon Area Hospital treated the highest number of Covid-19 patients in NI during the height of the pandemic

Ten patients and 11 staff at Craigavon Area Hospital are now confirmed to have Covid-19, after two clusters were identified on the site.

On the Haematology Ward, where blood disorders are treated, ten of the 12 ward patients have tested positive.

Eight members of staff on the ward have also tested positive. They are off work and self-isolating.

All other staff members on the ward are being tested again as a precaution.

An investigation into the clusters is continuing.

Dr Sara Hedderwick is an infectious medicine consultant with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

“Obviously it’s concerning to us whenever we have patients with Covid and it’s particularly concerning when those are vulnerable people or immuno-compromised like our haematology group of patients are,” she said.

“So we’re doing everything possible to make sure that they stay well and that they are seen by the right doctors and nurses and cared for in the right place.”

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The ward has been closed to new admissions, and visiting has been suspended unless for exceptional circumstances.

Families are being offered virtual visits during the day instead.

Dr Hedderwick says some patients may have been transferred around the hospital site or to other hospitals in the Trust area for routine medical tests before their Covid-19 status was known.

“What we need to remember is we have to do normal business in our Trust and so with Covid we’ve actually moved quite a lot of different investigations into different places in our Trust, so yes we do do transfers – both of some of the patients that have been involved with this cluster and with other patients, and we’ve got processes in place to make those as safe as possible.

“I think it’s important to realise that every single patient gets a test when they are admitted to our hospital and that’s a mechanism that helps us make sure we try to keep other patients in the hospital safe.”

The hospital is working with the Public Health Agency to manage the clusters and trace contacts within the wider community.

Three members of staff had tested positive in the Emergency Department.

While no new cases have been detected, 21 members of staff in the department are isolating as a precaution, making a total of 28 staff across the hospital site who are off work.

“Staffing and workforce is a big problem at the best of times and so this is really what happens when clusters happen, which is why it’s important for us all to try to reduce that happening,” Dr Hedderwick said.

“Covid could have got into our hospitals in a number of ways; it could have been brought in by anybody from the community so that’s visitors, patients, or staff, and so it’s really important to do the things we know work.”

One member of staff who later tested positive had worked in the Trauma theatre, during what is thought to be a time when they may have been infectious.

Seven more staff in Trauma and Orthopaedics are now off to isolate as a precaution, although no positive cases have been reported as yet.

A planned Orthopaedic Surgery list for Wednesday, 2 September, has been cancelled to ensure Trauma theatre can be provided.

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