Patients are a lot sicker and in ICU longer in this wave of Covid-19, Nightingale nurse says
A nurse caring for people in the Nightingale facility after they have left ICU says this wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has presented patients who are "a lot sicker; they are in intensive care a lot longer and they are taking longer to recover".
Liz Moore is a ward sister in the post intensive care step-down ward in the Nightingale facility at Belfast City Hospital and said patients are still so ill they are often "unable to do anything for themselves; simple things like eating, swallowing, drinking, walking, talking".
Sister Moore said the majority of people in her ward have been aged in their forties, fifties and sixties but can range from "35 onwards, up towards 80" and some have had no underlying heatlh conditions.
Among those receiving specialist care are people who have spent between one week and 66 days in ICU "and all still require oxygen therapy" for weeks or months. On occasion patients become unwell and have to return to intensive care, she added.
Asked how this wave of the pandemic compared to previous, the nurse said: "This time the patients that we see are a lot sicker; they are in intensive care a lot longer and they are taking longer to recover. And, as I say, the patients they are not old patients. Our youngest patient who was discharged last week was 34, a young gentleman with no previous history and he was so ill and it takes weeks and months for them to recover."
Sister Moore said medically trained military personnel had been working in the Nightingale facility this week and were "very welcome" and "very willing to be part of our team and help us and do whatever needs to be done"
The Belfast health trust nurse was addressing a media briefing alongside Health Minister Robin Swann at Stormont this afternoon.
Mr Swann urged the public to adhere to the guidance and said every breach, no matter how small, "can do harm".
"Even a short visit to a friend or a relative's home is a risk, for you and to them. Standing too close to someone in the shops is a risk, for you and for them. Standing too close for a chat is a risk."
He added: "Don't go shopping more than you need to".
The minister urged people "not to slip up now, not to give in now, not to surrender now".
The most recent vaccination figures released this afternoon reveal that 271,826 vaccines have been administered, of which 246,671 were first doses and 25,155 were second doses.
"That's an increase of over 13,500 in the last 24 hours, one of our highest numbers of vaccines administered over a single day," Mr Swann said.
A "significant shipment" of AstraZeneca vaccine has arrived in Northern Ireland and is being distrubuted to GP surgeries, the health minister said. Those aged 70 and over are being offered the AstraZeneca vaccine while the 65-69 age group are being offered the Pfizer vaccine which has also been administered to health and social care staff along with care home residents.
"Infection numbers have come down but they are still too high, we must push them down further and keep them down," he said.
"We must continue to work so our health service and its staff get the breathing space they need because they can't continue to go on like this."
It comes as 11 further deaths were reported today and 504 new cases of Covid-19. The death toll now stands at 1,889. Read more
Mr Swann also paid tribute to Captain Tom Moore.
"Let's keep being inspired by Captain Sir Tom Moore as we mourn his loss, let us remember all he achieved, one step at a time."