Covid-19 in nursing homes: protecting the most vulnerable

With infection rates rising, we need to learn the lessons of the spring

A public inquiry to investigate coronavirus deaths in nursing homes, as recommended by the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 in its final report last week, will serve two important purposes: finding out what went wrong and learning from it to prevent a recurrence.

The deaths of three residents of Kilminchy Lodge Nursing Home in Portlaoise, reported this week, should serve as a stark reminder of the dangers of this virus to our elderly. These latest fatalities underline the importance of looking back at how the virus got into nursing homes in March so that precautions can continue to be taken, especially ahead of the riskiest winter months, to prevent a repeat of mistakes made early in the pandemic.

The people most vulnerable to this coronavirus remain the elderly and particularly those in congregated settings. More than half of the fatalities from the disease in the State have been nursing home residents. Level 3 restrictions have closed nursing homes to visitors, reflecting the risks posed by rising infections.

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