“THIS is not a virus to be taken lightly” is the stark warning from the Western Trust this week, as the number of local patients hospitalised with Covid-19 has increased dramatically.
Frontline medical staff are currently dealing with the second wave of coronavirus and have seen a high number of patients requiring hospital treatment.
During the first surge of Covid-19, the Western Trust experienced a low number of cases and deaths.
However, the number of cases has increased dramatically in the past month, and at least 45 patients are currently being treated in hospital across the region.
On Monday Altnagelvin Hospital had 31 Covid positive patients and five of those patients were in the intensive care unit.
There were 14 Covid positive patients in the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen and two of them were in critical care beds.
Geraldine McKay, director of Acute Hospitals within the Western Trust, said the ‘doubling’ of figures in the Western Trust area recently is “extremely concerning.”
“Two weeks ago, we had eight people in the hospital with Covid-19.
“On Monday we had 31 in Altnagelvin alone.
“We are doubling very fast at the minute.
“This week, there was only one county in the south that had a higher rate of transmission than Fermanagh and Omagh… which was Cavan.
“Community transmission has risen to extreme levels and this is having a massive impact on our health service,” added Mrs McKay.
Brian McFetridge, assistant director of Acute Services Western Health and Social Care Trust continued, “I think the highest number of patients in the hospital during the first wave was around 40… but we were at 31 on Monday.
“We have noticed that the numbers are increasing at a much more rapid pace than they did during the first time so that is reflective of the community transmission.
“Patients who are in hospital require support that they cannot receive in their homes.
“That can be anything from oxygen through to intensive care.
“Some of the patients can become very unwell, so they are moved to intensive care unit where they receive one-to-one nursing care.
“It is not a virus to be taken lightly.
“The fact that we are talking about patients with Covid requiring treatment in the ICU tells the story itself.
“It can effect anyone of us and it can result in anyone of us requiring that level of treatment,” said Mr McFetridge.