Limerick Covid contact tracing unit to close as caseload rises

DESPITE a significant increase in the number of Covid-19 patients being treated at University Hospital Limerick (UHL), the Health Service Executive is moving ahead with plans to close its Covid contract research unit in Limerick at the end of the month.

Staff employed as contact tracers are to be transferred to work at a passport call center run by the Foreign Office at its Limerick offices in Henry Street.

The closure of the contact tracing unit comes against the backdrop of a warning from HSE Clinical Director Dr Colm Henry about the risk of re-infection with Covid-19 as newer Omicron variants become more widespread

The latest figures show that 453 people with the virus in hospitals are admitted with Covid-19 or identified as having the virus on admission.

That compares with 180 patients at the end of May, with the positivity rate among people taking PCR tests rising from 17% on May 31 to 27.4% last Monday.

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UHL is treating the highest number of Covid patients of any hospital in the country with the most recent data showing 54, followed by St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin with 40 Covid patients.

As well as vaccinations and boosters, the HSE has also urged people to open windows when meeting people indoors and to wear face masks on public transport, in healthcare settings such as pharmacies or hospitals and in crowded environments.

The Irish Cancer Society has advised people in active cancer treatment to wear respirator masks (FFP2 or N95 masks) in crowded indoor areas, including public transport.