There have been three Covid deaths reported in the last 24 hours, according to the Department of Health – the highest jump since the end of May.
It brings the total number of fatalities to 591.
There were a further 877 cases reported in that time frame, bringing the seven day total to 6,161. A total of 4,430 individuals were tested.
There are now 140 people in hospital, 22 of whom are in intensive care units.
Meanwhile, Daisy Hill Hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) will reopen next Monday, October 18, at 8am.
In March, the Department temporarily closed and staff transferred to Craigavon to run a second (Non Respiratory) Emergency Department as part of the Southern Trust response to Covid-19.
The Non Respiratory ED, based in the Ramone building at Craigavon Hospital will close from 4pm on Sunday, October 18.
All adults coming to the site for emergency care should go to the main ED and children should be brought to Paediatric ED beside maternity.
Welcoming the return of his ED team along with Direct Assessment Unit colleagues to Daisy Hill, Clinical Director, Dr Gareth Hampton said: “Thanks to the wholehearted support of our staff, merging emergency care on to one site alongside intensive care, gave the Trust a strong response to Covid-19 during the first peak.
“However, we recognise the public concern that this has brought and have been working closely through the Daisy Hill Pathfinder Group to reopen the Emergency Department.
“Increasing cases of Covid-19 in the community along with the growing pressures on emergency care, has made this a challenging process. We have been working hard to get the hospital ready for the ED reopening and have new arrangements in place to reduce the spread of infection, including separate waiting areas for paediatrics, minor injuries, respiratory and non-respiratory patients.
“We also have a phone line and the Direct Assessment Unit for GP referrals, to help avoid crowded waiting rooms and reduce waiting times for patients with urgent, but less critical conditions.
“We appeal for public understanding of the extra demands on our staff. It is absolutely vital that those who need emergency care most are prioritised. So please choose the right service and follow our guidance to protect the service and keep everyone safe.”
A spokesperson for the Daisy Hill Pathfinder Community Forum commented: “Monday will see the re-opening of the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital, something the Pathfinder group have worked towards ever since it’s closure in March as a response to the first wave of Covid-19.
“During that time an incredible amount of planning and restructuring has been underway to ensure that a fully functioning emergency department could be opened in a safe and manageable way in light of all the social distancing measures that must be adhered to. This has been an exceptionally difficult and challenging task that required significant structural work to make the maximum use of the limited space available on the Daisy Hill site.
“Next Monday morning at 8am will see the culmination of all those efforts when the doors of ED are re-opened. Then begins the equally difficult task of keeping the service open.
“The future of the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill lies in the hands of the community. It is absolutely vital that the guidance about how to use the service is followed. Covid 19 is still with us and community spread is on the rise. The winter season will bring many additional pressures. Failure to follow the advice about accessing ED will potentially overwhelm the capacity of the service.
“We cannot and must not let that happen. Everyone of us has a responsibility to ensure that our health services are used properly. Our lives and the lives of our families and friends depend on it.
“Our hospital is a precious resource, and we must protect it at all costs. Staff must be protected from unnecessary risks and exposure to Covid. Without staff we have no ED.
“It is so important that everyone of us plays our part. If we don’t we risk losing our ED again and that
is a scenario we cannot contemplate. The choice is simple.”
Newry and Armagh DUP Assemblyman William Irwin MLA said the news was “long awaited”.
“I know that many people in the wider area will be pleased with this development,” he said.
“Whilst it has been a very difficult time in our hospitals of late due to having to deal with the virus and also maintain services, the fact that Daisy Hill was without an ED was a concern.
“I wish all those staff well who will oversee the reopening and continuation of the service and I would reiterate the advice of the Clinical Director of only attending the ED with acute urgent symptoms and also speak to your GP or community pharmacist first. It is important that service is used correctly to ensure everyone’s safety.”
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