Cautious optimism urged over Covid restrictions

THERE is “cautious optimism” regarding the future of Covid-19 in the community, but we all must still do all we can to limit the spread of the virus.
That was the message from the Western Trust at the February meeting of is board of directors in which the current post-surge situation, where Covid patient numbers are quickly falling, was outlined.
Speaking at the monthly board meeting, chairman Sam Pollock was positive about the outlook but noted we had been in a similar situation before and urged the community not to slack in its efforts.
“The [Health] Minister has indicated to us, across the community, there should be cautious optimism going forward, in regard to easing restrictions,” said Mr Pollock.
“On behalf of the Western Trust I want to encourage people to be sensible, to be safe, and to show respect for the important precautions we should continue to take.
“There are still people who are ill, we have two very young people in ICU at the moment, and we can’t ignore the fact that we are still having deaths.
“Please take your time and respect the safety of your family, of your community, and those at work, as we go forward.”
Trust chief executive Neil Guckian gave an update to the board on the current Covid situation in the local health service, noting virus patient numbers were dropping at both the SWAH and Altnagelvin, as well as at care homes.
Not everything was positive, however, with Mr Guckian noting the vaccine roll out, which had been continuing at pace in recent months, had slowed due to a fall off in demand.
While he commended and thanked all involved in the roll out, including volunteers, who have helped administer over 313,000 vaccines since the start of the programme, Mr Guckian noted there were still very large numbers – in the region of 300,000 – people yet to be vaccinated across the North.
“There has been a significant downturn in demand for the vaccine since the start of the year,” he said.
“Anticipated uptake of the booster programme has not materialised, and the three mass vaccination centres in Foyle Arena, Lakeland Forum Enniskillen, and Omagh Leisure Centre closed on January 30th.”
However, while the mass vaccination centres may now be closed, Mr Guckian said mobile clinics would be continuing while static hubs had been set up, including at the key worker accommodation area of the SWAH complex and at the old school canteen at the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital.
Mr Pollock encouraged anyone yet to get their booster jabs not to delay any further.
“I make no apology for encouraging people, unless there is some profound personal reason that you can’t get the booster,” he said.
“It’s in your own interest, it’s in the interest of your family, and in the interest of your work colleagues and community.”

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