Derry medics plead with younger people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 with seven patients in Altnagelvin ICU

Medics are pleading with younger people to get vaccinated as the surge in COVID-19 continues to pile pressure on the health service.

By Kevin Mullan
Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 10:44 am

Thirteen people were admitted to Altnagelvin with COVID-19 at the weekend with the under 40s accounting for the largest number of these.

Seven SARS-CoV-2 patients, meanwhile, are now in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)at Altnagelvin with six of these having to be ventilated.

A man, aged 60-79, sadly died in hospital on Saturday after testing positive with the illness.

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This brings the total death toll locally to 139. Three people have now died in Derry/Strabane in July.

Dr. Manav Bhavsar, Consultant Anaesthetist at ICU at Altnagelvin said: “There has been an increase in community transmission and this has led to increased hospital admissions and those hospital admissions, unfortunately, a few of the patients have been admitted to ICU.

“I would urge the public to get themselves vaccinated. We are seeing more and more patients being admitted to hospital and to ICU that have not been vaccinated and even if you are vaccinated you still have to be careful about this virus.”

Dr. Tom Black

Dr. Tom Black, the British Medical Association NI chair, said: “We need to reduce the spread in the community now. The number of positive cases in young people is of particular concern with, locally, the highest number of cases in the 20-39 age group.

“This is also a group that is not coming forward as much as we would have hoped for the vaccine. I would urge young people to get the vaccine; if they have any concerns, they can discuss this with staff at the vaccination centre and, hopefully, they will be reassured that it is safe for them to get.”

The high COVID-19 case rates in Derry over the past several weeks are now being reflected in hospitalisations.

Two women, aged 60 to 69, and two men, aged over 80, were admitted to Altnagelvin with SARS-CoV-2 on Sunday. A man, aged 20 to 39, was admitted on Saturday. On Friday there were seven admissions. These were of four males aged 0-19, 20-39, 20-39 and over 80; and four females, aged 20-39, 40-49 and 50-59. At midnight on Sunday 40 people were being treated as coronavirus inpatients across all WHSCT hospitals. Seven (70%) out of ten ICU beds at Altnagelvin were being used to treat COVID-19 patients; one ICU bed (10%) was occupied by a patient with another condition and two beds (20%) were free. Six ICU patients in total were being ventilated - five were COVID-19 patients.

In total 8.70% of beds at Altnagelvin were ‘COVID-19 occupied’, 83.23% were ‘other occupied’ and the hospital was operating at 5.90% over capacity; 8.07% were ‘awaiting admission.

The Derry/Strabane seven day COVID-19 rate has now risen to 557.2 cases per 100,000, suggesting hospitalisations will continue.

Dr. Black said: “This weekend has shown us that we are not out of the woods yet with COVID. We have seen a steady increase in the numbers being confirmed as positive and a corresponding increase in people needing hospitalised. Thankfully, the numbers in hospital are still lower than in previous waves but it is already having an impact on our health services with some planned procedures around the north being cancelled or postponed which is very disappointing for people who were hoping to have treatment.”

Dr. Bhavsar said: “I would like to thank everybody who has got themselves vaccinated; who continue to follow the guidelines of washing hands, wearing mask and socially distancing because we are all in this together and we’ll get over this pandemic together.”