Nursing homes eye early warning system

Nursing homes want an early warning system to alert them to localised outbreaks so they…

Nursing homes want an early warning system to alert them to localised outbreaks so they can take additional precautionary measures to prevent coronavirus spreading from clusters in the community.

The recommendation comes as the number of Covid-19 cases rises while public health measures including serial testing have managed to prevent the spread of infection in nursing homes.

There was just one new outbreak in a nursing home and eight new cases linked to nursing homes reported in the past week, bringing to 279 the number of clusters in nursing homes as of last Sunday.

Nursing Homes Ireland, the representative body for private nursing homes that make up four out of every five care homes, said an early warning system for localised outbreaks could avoid more severe restrictions.

“Rather than the blunt instrument of national restrictions, it might be better to consider a more localised approach that would not lead to visitor restrictions across the country,” said NHI chief executive Tadhg Daly.

“Visiting is a critical part of a person’s wellbeing. A move to blanket restrictions would be a very significant one.”

There were just 36 “open” Covid-19 outbreaks in nursing homes at the start of this week with most of them Covid-19 free but awaiting a mandatory 28-day period of no new cases before outbreaks can be closed, he said.