FERMANAGH has recorded its highest Covid rate since the pandemic began, by a significant margin, with thousands of cases across the county this week.
As businesses struggle to remain open due to heavily reduced workforces, schools urging all pupils to take lateral flow tests before returning to class, and the health service on its knees due to a perfect storm of winter pressures and staff shortages, the predicted post-Christmas Omicron surge certainly appears to be hitting home.
The latest figures from the Department of Health make it clear to see why there has been so much disruption.
In the Fermanagh and Omagh Council area, there were 4,224 positive cases over the past week, leading up to January 3. That’s more than double the 2,066 cases the previous week, leading up December 27.
More locally, the jump has been even more stark.
In the four Fermanagh post code areas there were a total of 2,453 cases in the seven days leading up to Monday this week.
Due to the holiday period, the Herald does not have corresponding local figures for the previous week, however in the week leading up to the Monday before Christmas there were 508 positive cases in the area, meaning Fermanagh cases have increased almost five fold in just a fortnight.
In BT74, covering Enniskillen, there were 683 cases, accounting for an infection rate of 3,863 per 100,000 population.
In BT92, covering Lisnaskea and Derrylin areas, there were 799 cases, with an infection rate of 4,611.
In BT93, covering Derrygonnelly, Belleek and Kesh areas, there were 470 cases, with an infection rate of 4,159.
In BT94, covering Ballinamallard, Tempo and Irvinestown areas, there were 501 cases, with an infection rate of 3,098.
Encouragingly, though, and in keeping with local doctors’ assertions that the Omicron variant causes less severe symptoms than previous strains of the virus, the number of people in hospital remains relatively low.
As of yesterday afternoon, there were 18 SWAH patients with Covid. That is just one more than the week before Christmas, and significantly lower than the numbers seen for much of last year, when the average number of patients hovered between the mid to high 20s.
However, two of these Covid positive patients were being treated in SWAH’s ICU, which at the time of going to print yesterday was fully occupied, with four non-Covid patients also being treated at the unit.
Anyone who has yet to get vaccinated, or to receive their booster jab, is urged to attend the Mass Vaccination Centre at the Lakeland Forum, which reopened in the days following Christmas. The Enniskillen centre is opened every day this week, except Sunday, with plenty of slots available for appointments and walk-ins.
Visit the Western Trust on Facebook for more information, including opening times.
Those running low on lateral flow tests, such as parents of children returning to school, have been assured there is an adequate supply locally. Local pharmacies are being regularly re-stocked with the tests, while they are also available at County Buildings in Enniskillen.
The tests are also available online, although they may not always be in stock when first logging on. The Department of Health has said the stocks are frequently updated, and urged those ordering online to keep refreshing the page.
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