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Fears of another Covid surge confirmed


FEARSDr Gillian Chambers, pictured at the Covid 19 test centre at MacHale Park in Castlebar, is very worried about the number of people who require tests this week. Pic: Michael McLaughlin

112 people tested for Covid-19 in Mayo on Christmas Day

Edwin McGreal

Testing centres in Mayo, Roscommon and Galway have just endured their busiest weekend since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
So busy was the Mayo test centre at MacHale Park in Castlebar yesterday (Tuesday) that testing centres in Castlerea and Roscommon have helped with the overflow.
On Christmas Day alone, there were 112 tests in MacHale Park and since then the numbers have continued to climb alarmingly.
On St Stephen’s Day, 201 were tested, increasing to 220 on Sunday and up to 360 on Monday, December 28.
Yesterday (Tuesday), there were fully 430 people booked in for tests in Castlebar. However, the centre had over 600 referrals with some people being redirected to Roscommon.
Given that many GPs only reopened yesterday, there are fears the numbers will continue to rise in the coming days.
Dr Gillian Chambers, the Clinical Lead for the Covid-19 Testing Programme in Mayo, based at MacHale Park in Castlebar, warned that people need to act with extreme caution to prevent Covid-19 cases, illnesses and deaths from spiraling out of control.
“The volumes of referrals is massive and positive cases are so concerning with well over 10 percent now coming back Covid positive,” she said on Monday.
“Our colleagues in General Practice are reporting that the volumes of symptomatic people contacting them are now much higher than the peak in April.
“We must act now to prevent significant illness and mortality in our region in early 2021. Please answer your phone if contract tracing call. Please adhere to the guidelines. Please protect our most vulnerable family, friends and neighbours so they are alive to benefit from the vaccination,” she said.  
Dr Chambers concerns are validated when figures of hospitalisations at Mayo University Hospital in Castlebar are considered.
On Monday, it recorded the largest number of new Covid-19 cases in a 24 hour period of any hospital in the country.
Those nine new cases brings to 19 the total number of cases in MUH.
As of midnight on Sunday, December 27 there were a total of 1,755 cases of Covid-19 to date in Mayo. There have been 169 new cases in the past two weeks alone.
Speaking to The Mayo News last week, Dr Chambers warned of the need for people to risk assess their behaviour over the Christmas.
She said that people will have to make choices if they want to socialise this Christmas.
“It is probably not what people want to hear, but if you make the choice you want to go out and socialise and meet people outside your household you have to consider not meeting your elderly relatives and over 65s. That is the reality.
“We have been told to expect this week to be busy and early January to have a big surge. The knock-on effect will be people coming into hospital and then a knock-on effect on ICU admissions and unfortunately that will lead to a spike in deaths as well.
“January is always a difficult month for the health service, but next month will be particularly difficult unless we become really careful over the next few days,” she warned.