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10 patients and eight staff test positive in Covid-19 outbreak at Craigavon Area Hospital haematology ward

A "detailed investigation" is taking place into a coronavirus outbreak on a Haematology ward at Craigavon area Hospital where 10 patients and eight staff have tested positive
Seanín Graham

A HOSPITAL at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak linked to a haematology ward has confirmed 10 patients and eight staff have now tested positive for the virus.

It has also emerged that a second cluster discovered at Craigavon Area Hospital's A&E department last week in which three frontline workers contracted coronavirus has implications for surgery patients - after one of the staff covered a shift in a 'trauma' operating theatre.

Southern health trust chiefs today confirmed the latest cases and said that as a precautionary measure, seven theatre staff are currently self-isolating which will lead to the cancellation of some procedures in order to provide cover.

"The theatre department is unable to provide double trauma lists daily to meet with demand. A planned orthopaedic surgical list on Wednesday 2nd September has been cancelled to ensure there is trauma list provision," a trust spokeswoman said.

"There is no impact to the trauma theatre sessions Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday Monday. "

An investigation is underway into an outbreak on the haematology ward, which occurred at the beginning of this week.

The A&E cluster resulted in 21 staff being sent home to self-isolate. Almost 150 department staff have tested negative.

Dr Sara Hedderwick, an infection control consultant based in Craigavon, told The Irish News on Tuesday that patients connected to the haematogogy outbreak were "vulnerable" due to the serious nature of their illnesses.

"In the haematology ward cluster, this is a ward of patients who have a range of underlying diagnoses which are all blood disorders... Obviously, we are anxious about these patients who have Covid when they're much more likely to come to harm," she said.

At that point, six patients had tested positive as well as one healthcare worker who "routinely" works on the ward.

However, the trust yesterday confirmed a further four patients "connected with the haematology ward have tested positive within last 48 hours".

A spokeswoman added: "Eight members of staff have tested positive and are currently off and self-isolating. Contacts of these staff members have been identified and are isolating as a precaution. All other members of staff connected to the ward are being tested again as a precaution. A detailed investigation is on-going and the ward remains closed to new admissions.

"As the Health Minister has stated publicly, clusters and outbreaks are anticipated in hospitals, we all have to do everything we can to limit the spread of the virus and deal with any outbreaks swiftly and effectively."

Routine visiting to the ward has been suspended until further notice unless in exceptional circumstances.

Virtual visiting is available on request by contacting 077 7651 6419 between 9am and 5pm.

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