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Fears rise over care homes as four residents die and 89 taken ill at just one facility

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Dr Tony Holohan wants people to visit A&Es if necessary. Photo: Colin Keegan

Dr Tony Holohan wants people to visit A&Es if necessary. Photo: Colin Keegan

Colin Keegan

Dr Tony Holohan wants people to visit A&Es if necessary. Photo: Colin Keegan

Fears about the devastating toll the virus is taking on nursing homes have escalated after it was revealed four elderly residents in one facility died from the infection which also struck 89 others there, mostly staff.

Several residents of the HSE-run Peamount Hospital long-term care centre in Dublin are currently being treated for the virus and another public home has had to be closed to new admissions.

It comes as another 13 people have died from the virus here, increasing the numbers of people who have succumbed to the infection to 98.

Yesterday also saw a record 402 new cases, driving the total so far to up to 3,489.

Emptiness

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the daily growth in new cases fell to around 10pc - compared to 33pc before emergency measures - but it is still not enough to avoid hospitals buckling under the strain if there is a huge surge.

Dr Holohan, who attended St James's Hospital for tests for non-Covid-19 symptoms after he felt unwell on Tuesday, revealed he is now fine and on new medication.

But he said he was struck by the emptiness of the hospital's emergency department and he appealed to people not to be afraid to seek medical help if they need urgent care for any illness, "lumps, chest pain or other concerns".

"I would also like to highlight a worrying scene I witnessed during my visit to hospital on Tuesday evening - empty waiting rooms and empty beds," he said.

"While protecting yourself from Covid-19 is a priority, no one should ignore signs that they may need medical attention.

"Please do not ignore any symptom outside of Covid-19. The hospitals are there for all ailments, not just Covid-19."

Earlier, Fianna Fail TD Stephen Donnelly told the Dail of one nursing home where four residents died and 89 staff and residents also contracted the infection.

Mr Donnelly said it has 200 staff and 70 of them have tested positive for coronavirus.

Of the 100 residents, 19 have tested positive and four have died. Some kitchen and cleaning staff have left.

The number of clusters of the virus in nursing homes has risen to 29 and there are also worrying outbreaks in public long-stay facilities as well as residential homes.

Dr Holohan said that some residents have died in the facility where they were cared for.

Catherine Cox, of Family Carers Ireland, expressed her concern following an agreement to ask hundreds of HSE carers who look after people in their own homes to transfer to nursing homes to relieve staff shortages.

Some carers have been freed up because their clients are self-isolating but Ms Cox warned it is important that people who need home care do not fall through the cracks of the care system.

Dr Holohan revealed 932 people with the virus have been hospitalised so far and 134 patients admitted to intensive care.

Among those who were admitted to intensive care, 14 lost their lives but he said that 25 recovered enough to be discharged. He added that 109 remain in intensive care with a median age of 62.