No new coronavirus cases found in care homes

  • Westmeath Residential and Nursing Care Home (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Westmeath Residential and Nursing Care Home (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

No more care home cases of Covid-19 have been found after testing across the sector was completed at the weekend, the Ministry of Health said last night.

A spokeswoman added that the results for all 21 homes had now come back and the number of cases was still 44 spread across five homes.

The ministry has now linked 28 cases to the Matilda Smith Williams Seniors Residence in Devonshire and said that Westmeath Residential and Nursing Home in Pembroke had 13 cases.

Kim Wilson, the Minister of Health, said on Friday that three new cases found last week were residents in three long-term care homes, with one positive in each home, but did not identify the homes.

Ms Wilson appealed to journalists this week not to ask “probing” questions that could lead to the identification of people with Covid-19, especially in seniors’ homes.

Ms Wilson told Monday’s press conference that the Government had been forthright in the information it made public about rest homes where the coronavirus was found.

But she said she held back some information last week to ensure patients and families heard the news about positive results first.

The first Covid-19 case at Westmeath, the island’s largest nursing home, was found on April 10 and the second on April 14. Both involved nurses.

The public was not informed there was Covid-19 at the home until April 21, after a resident contracted the disease.

Testing of all staff and residents at Westmeath started on April 22.

Ms Wilson said last month that the media had asked many questions about the rest homes which might “indirectly disclose the identity of positive cases”.

However, at Monday’s press conference she denied she had attacked the media.

Ms Wilson told reporters: “I think it’s important for you, as professionals, to ensure that we are professionally reporting information, as well as not requesting information that could lead to the identity of individuals.

“To say that I attacked ... is a misrepresentation. I am just simply imploring you as professional members of the media to not ask questions that are probing to such an extent that would serve to identify the individuals that we are speaking about.”

Ms Wilson revealed on May 6 that there were three new cases of Covid-19 in the community.

She added that there were 44 positive results at the island’s care homes, but did not link the two statements.

The ministry had earlier said there were 41 cases in care homes.

Ms Wilson said in a statement last Friday that the three new cases she referred to last Wednesday “were residents in three of our long-term care homes”.

She added that two of the cases were found as part of the routine testing and the third because of a “symptomatic elder”.

Ms Wilson said: “I was unable to comment on this at Wednesday night’s press conference as all families had to first be notified.”

She added that “out of sensitivity to the family, I was imploring the press to not necessarily probe that issue because the family members” had not been informed”.

Ms Wilson said: “I’m sure you would all appreciate that we would rather our family members received that information or the patient in particular themselves, as opposed to hearing it on the 5.45 newscast.”

David Burt, the Premier, said last night that those employed at seniors’ homes should not share confidential information with reporters and that the media should “stop and think” before reporting on cases at care homes.

“Families should not learn about sensitive health matters through media outlets,” he said.

• NOTE: this article has been amended to include new information shared by the Ministry of Health on the number of positive cases found at Matilda Smith Williams. A spokeswoman said the number of cases associated with the home was now 28, after an additional person tested positive in April.

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Published May 14, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated May 15, 2020 at 9:15 pm)

No new coronavirus cases found in care homes

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