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Covid cases more than double in Mid Ulster

Visiting remains suspended at the Craigavon Area Hospital as the number of Covid cases continues to rise in Mid Ulster.

Over the last week, the Mid Ulster area has seen a sharp spike in positive Covid 19 results, as figures from the Department of Health on Wednesday showed there had been 468 cases over the last week, well over double the number of cases (183) recorded in the previous week.

Last Friday, the Southern Health Trust announced its decision to stop visitors coming into their hospitals including Craigavon.

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“Due to increasing cases of Covid-19 within our communities, visiting will be suspended from 9pm this evening (except for end of life visiting),” said a spokesperson for the Trust.

“We encourage friends and family to arrange ‘virtual visits.’ If you need help to arrange, call 07776516419 between 9am and 5pm. We appreciate your continued support.”

The move has sparked concern from Dungannon Alliance representative Claire Hackett over visits to the maternity wards.

“Through co-chairing the SHSCT Maternity Services Liaison Committee (MSLC, a forum where service users work with the Trust to shape policy and procedures) I have a relationship with the maternity team so emailed them for clarification,” she said.

“Eventually a post appeared on social media, clarifying the maternity visiting but some information was still missing so I kept emailing to get this additional information – one birth partner for c-section and in recovery; if presenting for assessment partner needs to wait in the car; and neonatal reduced to one parent for two hours a day. Neonatal was relaxed back to ‘open visiting for parents’.”

Ms Hackett who is standing as the Alliance candidate in next year’s Assembly election said many families have been “blindsided” by the return of this restriction.

She added, “One pregnant person that emailed me has said, ‘It is unfair, we are being failed by the Southern Trust, this is meant to be a wonderful and happy time for us and now it is shrouded in worry and uncertainty’. Pregnant people need the support of their partner. No visitors after the birth also has a detrimental impact. We hear how there are staffing issues, if partners could be with the mums after the birth, they can take care of caring and other tasks, freeing up our skilled staff to do the jobs only they can do.”

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Meanwhile, dozens of people took up the chance to vaccinated at the pop-clinic at The Junction in Dungannon on Sunday as the battle against the virus continues. Another clinic will be held this Saturday at the Burnavon Theatre in Cookstown from 10am 6pm. South Tyrone MLA Colm Gildernew added his voice to the pleas for people to get vaccinated.

The Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson said, “It is essential that as many people as possible get a COVID-19 vaccination. Vaccination centres are offering a walk-in service and there are pop-up vaccination clinics operating across the North. The Health Minister has announced that the current vaccination operation cannot continue indefinitely and will begin to be scaled down at the end of this month so it is vital that people get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

The MLA added, “It is important that the Health Minister makes sure that access to vaccinations will continue to be available, particularly for harder to reach individuals and groups. We are in the grip of a COVID surge at present and the vaccine, together with an effective find, test, trace, isolate and support system, offers the best protection for people and for our health service.

“I would urge anyone who has not already been vaccinated to get their jab now while it is so easy to do in order to protect everyone.”

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