The Department of Public Health Mid-West is urging all unvaccinated adults to consider availing of free self-referral COVID-19 tests in Limerick, as new cases in the community continue to have a negative impact on businesses and services across the city and county.
According to provisional data over the past 14 days, Public Health Mid-West has recorded more than 770* COVID-19 cases in Limerick, more than 80 in Clare, and more than 50 in North Tipperary.
Public Health Mid-West acknowledges the preparation that workplaces have done to protect their customers and staff from COVID-19, while re-opening their businesses.
However, we continue to see concerning trends of inconsistent and poor practises when it comes to adhering to Public Health guidelines in the workplace. This is largely among workplaces that have reopened over the past four weeks.
It is very discouraging and frustrating for businesses who have reopened to be faced with possible closure again due to Covid outbreaks, and it is important that all employees and managers understand their responsibilities in the workplace.
For example, we continue to see evidence of people who are confirmed close contacts attending work when they should be restricting their movements for at least 10 days, pending a negative PCR test result.
While vast majority of businesses have improved their mitigation measures in relation to social distancing during working hours, there have been some incidents where staff congregate or engage in close contact in break rooms, locker rooms, and communal areas without masks.
In recent weeks, a number of workplace situations have been connected to outbreaks linked to indoor gatherings and house parties. If you are unvaccinated and engage in high-risk social activity (including indoor/household gatherings), we encourage you to avail of a free walk-in or drive-through COVID-19 PCR test.
In workplaces where there is close contact with customers or clients (such as hair salons and beauticians), PPE (gloves, masks, aprons, etc) needs to be changed after each customer. Some workplaces are not doing this, resulting in contaminated PPE.
We are also urging businesses to encourage staff to avail of the self-referral COVID-19 test centres if there are concerns in relation to current situations or outbreaks, or if staff members are symptomatic. If antigen tests are used in these circumstances, a PCR test is required to confirm either a negative or positive result.
Public Health Mid-West is currently investigating COVID-19 situations in 50 workplaces, involving 141 cases and an estimated 324 close contacts in the Mid-West region. The vast majority of these are in retail, supermarkets, hair salons, beauticians, offices, and factories.
A workplace situation is when our department is notified of at least one COVID-19 case linked to a workplace, requiring further investigation and risk assessment.
Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West, said: “It is an exciting time as businesses return to work and bring back vibrancy into communities, which is very visible and welcome. With the increased social element associated with the reopening of retail, cafes, pubs and restaurants, the business community has an added responsibility to protect its staff and customers, which in turn will reduce the level of infection in their respective communities. If measures are lax amid a high incidence rate in the community, businesses are at increased risk of small to large outbreaks. Our department is prioritising the safe return of businesses and is eager to connect with the business community over the coming weeks to ensure just that.”
In relation to the lower daily COVID-19 figures in recent days, Dr Mannix said: “The public response in Limerick has to be commended and has potentially resulted in the prevention of hundreds of cases across the city and county. However, in recent weeks, we have seen a trend of cases fluctuating, and decreasing between Saturdays and Mondays due to lower uptake in testing at the weekend. In light of society being more active, we will need to see a consistent decrease in cases on a week-by-week basis.”
The free self-referral walk-in and drive-through COVID-19 testing centre at St Joseph’s Health Campus on Mulgrave Street is operational, from 11am to 6.15pm daily up to and including Monday, June 21. No appointment is needed, bring photo ID and provide a mobile number so you can be contacted with your results.