Friday, January 06, 2023

By Rebecca Black, PA

There has been a “significant increase” in Covid-19 infections in Northern Ireland over the last month, the North’s Department of Health has said.

On January 5th, there were 374 patients in hospitals with confirmed Covid-19, up from 226 on December 5th, 2022.

UK-wide figures indicate that Covid-19 infections have jumped to their highest level since the summer, with nearly three million people likely to have had the virus at Christmas.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) about one in 16 in Northern Ireland are likely to have had Covid-19 over the festive period.

On Friday the Department of Health said the Covid-19 pandemic “continues to cast a long shadow over our health service and wider society in Northern Ireland”.

They described both Covid-19 and flu as among the factors contributing to the extreme and ongoing pressures on health and social care.

They said the 374 in-patients with Covid-19 represent 11 per cent of occupied beds in Northern Ireland hospitals.

They said for a significant number of these patients, Covid-19 will not be the principal reason for their ill-health and admission to hospital.

However, they also said infection with the virus can affect patient condition and recovery, as well as the management of their care.

The department urged anyone who is eligible for Covid-19 and flu vaccination and has not yet received it, to do so.

“The potential for hospital-acquired infection is heightened when Covid-19 rates increase in the community,” they said.

“This is another reason why timely discharge from hospital is important for patients who are medically fit to leave.

“It is also vital to keep following public health advice on preventing the spread of all respiratory infections.

“Anyone with symptoms of a respiratory infection and a high temperature should stay at home and should avoid contact with other people and must not visit others in health and social care settings.”

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