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29 May 2022

LATEST: Call for measures to slow down Omicron surge in Kildare

Free walk-in Covid testing centre  opens in Naas on Friday

FILE PHOTO

Local politicians have called for urgent measures to help stop record-high Covid-19 case numbers overwhelming the health service.

County Kildare currently has the third highest incidence rate of the virus behind Louth and Dublin.

Naas Hospital has one of the lowest number of patients with Covid-19 in the country — but has only one general bed available and not ICU beds available up to Tuesday morning. 

There were 13 Covid-19 positive patients in Naas Hospital and a further ten suspected of having the virus. 

A Cabinet meeting on Wednesday will discuss further measures to stop the spread of the Omicron variant but vaccinator and local councillor Peggy O’Dwyer said it was difficult to see what would be gained with increased restrictions.
Opposition Senator Mark Wall called for clarity from the Government on how it plans address the rise of Covid-19 patients in hospitals.


In Naas Hospital, there were seven patients with Covid-19 on Monday, while there were six people suspected of having the virus.
Almost 250 people have been testing positive for Covid-19 in County Kildare every day in the fortnight up to December 22 — the latest figures available.
Kildare has the third highest incidence rate at 1,550 — behind Louth at 1,687 and Dublin at 1,804.
Senator Wall said: “People are asking for direction, they are asking what the Government and NPHET know and what the future is for their families.
“We must hear more from Government on what their plans are to deal with the rise in numbers, in particular our hospitals where staff are already under so much pressure.
“What many people are saying to me is that we need a defined plan, based on numbers. Such a plan would let people know the various levels where they can go about their daily lives, what’s open at different levels etc.
In relation to schools reopening, Senator Wall said: “We have always followed the current health advice and will again regarding schools. If there are schools where understandable staff absences require the schools to close for safety reasons, then fair enough, we must close that school.
“Schools must be assisted with providing HEPA filters and assisted with contact tracing and testing where and when needed.
“We need to see the urgent roll out of free antigen tests to homes.”
Vaccinator and veteran nurse Cllr Peggy O’Dwyer suggested that Ireland will probably follow other countries in keeping schools open.
The Fine Gael politician also queried what benefits imposing other restrictions could have on controlling the spread of the virus.
She told the Leader: “There are no indications that NPHET are going to recommend [closing schools] as all other countries are aiming to reopen schools.
“Of course the recommended guides will be followed by each household if a Covid-19 case is identified. From the community perspective, the Omicron transmission is widespread but I’m not sure what more we can gain with further restrictions.
“Businesses have been hit so hard and now with staff out either Covid-19 positive or close contacts they are struggling to stay open for the times that they can.
“Hospitals are under extreme pressure and the way Christmas fell at weekends, A&E departments in private hospitals were closed which only added to the situation we are in now.”

Cllr O’Dwyer also claimed that Covid-19 case number may be much higher than reported due to lack of access to PCR tests.
“I feel that many who have positive antigen tests over the last few days will not go for PCR tests now and the numbers are much higher than reported.”

Senator Fiona O’Loughlin called for free antigen tests and more PCR testing facilities in Kildare.
The Fianna Fáil representative added: “I don’t think more restrictions should be put in place. Many more of us will contract Covid but with vaccinations and boosters there is not the same fear as this time last year.
“As always, personal responsibility is of the utmost important importance.”

Independent TD Dr Cathal Berry said: "My preference is that schools would open as planned on Thursday but we will need to simultaneously see a rapid rollout of the promised CO2 monitors and HEPA filters in every classroom to mitigate risk." 

He added: "Much will depend on the meeting between Minister for Education Norma Foley and the teaching unions this week however and of course the full Cabinet on Wednesday where the final decision will be taken."

Local infection rates 

In the 14 days up to December 20, Naas Local Electoral Area (LEA) had 651 cases or an average of 46.5 per day.
There were 559 confirmed cases in the Newbridge LEA or 1,575.4 per 100,000. Clane had 379 cases or a LEA rate per 100,000 of 1332.8. Kildare LEA had 356 confirmed cases and a rate per 100,000 of 1385.1.
Athy area saw 295 and a LEA rate of 1111.5 per 100,000.

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