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Covid misinformation is hurting health staff

THE relaxation of Covid restrictions was always going to result in a rise in cases.

But what is worrying is how many patients with the virus have been admitted to intensive care in recent days.

Northern Ireland's Chief Nursing Officer, Charlotte McArdle, said the surge in demand has come more quickly than expected.

Covid patients include a large number of young people, many of whom are likely to be unvaccinated.

Figures published by the Department of Health on June 28 show that there were 1,600 new Covid cases and 12 hospital admissions over the previous seven days.

However, figures published on July 26 show there were 9,242 new cases and 203 hospital admissions in the previous week.

The increase in patients comes amid crippling staff shortages.

As The Irish News reported yesterday, Covid-related absence in the Belfast trust has jumped by 150 per cent.

The spike in infection rates has led to many workers being 'pinged' by the Covid-19 app, telling them to self-isolate.

Although some double-jabbed key workers in England are exempt from self-isolating, the British Medical Association in Northern Ireland has said this practice should not be repeated in the north and getting "infection numbers down" is more important.

Staff absences, combined with the already high number of vacancies across the north's health trusts, have created a perfect storm.

The situation is so grave that the Belfast and South Eastern trusts appealed for off-duty staff to come to work on Sunday evening and overnight.

With staff under such pressure, anti-vaccination protests in Belfast, Dublin, London and other major cities at the weekend appear particularly irresponsible.

Many NHS staff would have been understandably distressed to hear former nurse Kate Shemirani tell a large crowd in Trafalgar Square in London that medics working to battle coronavirus were like Nazi doctors complicit in genocide and should face 'Nuremberg trials'.

The Republic's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Ronan Glynn, has already urged the public not to spread "misinformation" about Covid-19 vaccines.

He said the pandemic has shown how easily misinformation can spread online and warned that many people have been exposed to false, inaccurate or misleading information.

The next few weeks will see our health service severely tested.

With Health Minister Robin Swann urging young people to get vaccinated as soon as possible, the focus must be on encouraging all adults to get their jabs.

Vaccines remain our best hope in the fight against Covid. Misinformation about them should not be allowed to spread unchecked.

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