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Covid-19 'outbreak at Cavan General

Two wards at Cavan General Hospital have placed on lockdown following what has been described as an 'outbreak' of Covid-19 infections.

As of lunchtime, restrictions were placed Medical Wards 1 and 2 at CGH, The Anglo-Celt has been told, as management struggle contain any futher spread of the infection taking place.

In a memo issued to staff (Wednesday, April 8) hospital management said the Medical wards had been 'closed to admissions due to Covid-19 outbreak'.

They added meanwhile that Surgical 1 and Surgical 2 been also been closed off, and are now being dedicated to treat 'Covid-19 positive patients only.'

It effectively closes off the entire ground floor of the hospital to patients other than those infected with Covid-19.

The hospital currently has 38 patients with confirmed Covid-19 infection. To date, 87 patients have tested positive.

The memo goes on to state that staff displaying any symptoms are now being told to 'NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES COME TO WORK' without first talking with their line manager.

Staff swabbing will be accommodated, to be internally arranged.

At least 70 doctors and nurses at CGH have now been confirmed as having been infected with the Covid-19 virus, and dozens more said to be isolation.

That includes more than half of senior medical staff, and almost half the surgical team.

It prompted several representative bodies to contact hospital management expressing grave concern over the reported high rate of infection, how the crisis is being managed, and criticising how personal protective equipment (PPE) is being used by staff.

Written admonishments were delivered by Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) general secretary Martin Varley, representing doctors and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), representing nursing staff.

‘I have been told that the doctors are assessing patients in ED with no masks or no goggles being provided,’ Mr Varley wrote in a scathing letter to David Lynch, general manager, Cavan & Monaghan Hospitals, dated Tuesday, March 31.

At that stage, Mr Varley said consultants at CGH were ‘being exposed’ to the virus due to ‘insufficient PPE’.

In the letter, seen by the Celt, Mr Varley added that he was aware that at least three consultant physicians “are down with the virus” and demanded to know: ‘Is this true and what is being done about it?’

When contacted about the letter, a spokesperson for ICHA declined to comment further on the correspondence.

A spokesperson for the INMO, meanwhile also confirmed it had received reports through its freephone helpline regarding ongoing PPE provision “issues” at CGH.

“The INMO are engaging with management on a regular basis to resolve any difficulties,” said the INMO spokesperson, before adding: “It is clear that we need clear national guidance from the HSE on this issue. We are calling for the HSE to recommend face masks for all health workers in hospital settings, which we understand should reduce transmission of COVID-19.”

The INMO said it had written to the HSE on the matter, and is “awaiting” a response.

One doctor at CGH, who spoke to the Celt anonymously, said up to last week CGH management permitted masks only to be worn when doctors and nurses were dealing directly with infected patients.

“There is no f**king system. It’s just in and out, in and out,” said the doctor, who believes that anyone presenting at CGH should be treated as a potentially infected patient. “It’s too late once they’ve all tested positive. They are not taking it seriously and, if it gets any worse, we’ll have no doctors left, no nurses, all out sick. And what then? Close the hospital?” asked the exasperated doctor when speaking directly to this newspaper.

The RCSI Hospital Group, to which CGH is attached, has been asked for comment.