Hospitals in the North reach 103% occupancy

ireland
Infection control nurse Colin Clarke looks out from a Covid-19 recovery ward at Craigavon Area Hospital in Co Armagh. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
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Rebecca Black, PA

Hospitals in Northern Ireland have reached 103 per cent occupancy amid a second surge of Covid-19 cases.

The latest data from the North's Department of Health shows the pressure hospitals are under.

At 9am on October 27th, there were 2,979 occupied beds, some 76 over the 2,903 capacity.

A further 221 patients were waiting to be admitted.

Of the patients in hospitals, some 352 have tested positive for Covid-19, with 44 in intensive care.

Nine further deaths were also notified on Wednesday, including the youngest so far in Northern Ireland, a patient aged 19 or under.

On the same day, the department recorded 840 new cases of the virus.

However, the BBC has reported there has been a 49 per cent drop in Covid cases in the Derry and Strabane council area, one of the worst-hit parts of Ireland and the UK recently.

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The drop in positive tests comes three weeks after further restrictions on gatherings were put into place in the area.

Health worker support

The North's Health Minister Robin Swann said in the past, people stood at their doors and clapped for the health service, now he has urged that support is shown by following public health guidance to break the chains of infection.

He described health workers as exhausted and in need of support.

“My plea to the public is to rally round our health and care staff, we can and must thank and praise them but they do need more from us so please do everything you can to stop this virus from spreading further,” he said.

Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride said the seven-day rolling average of new cases has plateaued and begun to fall.

But he warned that the decline is slow and the trajectory at this stage “remains uncertain”.

“We would ask everyone at this point to redouble their efforts over the next number of weeks,” he said.

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“It is crucially important that we get the reproductive rate of the virus below one, as far below one as we possibly can and keep it there for as long as we possibly can.”

Dr McBride also commented that any sense that Northern Ireland will return to normality at the end of the current four-week circuit-break of additional restrictions is “misplaced”.

“We are now in the middle of winter, this virus will continue to plague us throughout the next number of months, until such times as we have a vaccine, and it is crucially important that we learn to live with it and we will need to interact very, very differently as a society until such times as that is the case,” he said.

The Stormont Executive is set to meet on Thursday to review the impact of the restrictions and is set to discuss the reopening of schools on Monday.

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