People asked to avoid healthcare centres in an effort to contain flu

Health Care officials are urging the public not to visit hospitals and nursing homes unless absolutely necessary in an attempt to contain an outbreak of the flu virus.

It comes as a Sligo nursing home has been forced to close a number of wards to visitors and 46 people are waiting on trolleys in North West hospitals.

The HSE is urging people not to visit health care centres except in the case of an emergency as efforts continue to contain an outbreak of the flu virus.

Patients showing symptoms should contact their GP or out of hours service in the first instance.

St. John’s Hospital in Sligo has had to close four wards to visitors today due to the outbreak.

Rosses Ward along with the Cairde, Rehab and Curim units have been closed while strict visiting restrictions are also in place on the Hazelwood unit with family members only allowed visit following consultation with the ward manager.

The HSE says the situation is being monitored on a daily basis.

The flu virus is being blamed by the department of health and the HSE for the high numbers on trolleys this week.

Today there are almost 400 people waiting on trolleys nationwide according to Irish Nurses and Midwives figures, down from a record high of 612 on Tuesday.

There has been a slight reduction of those waiting in the North West from a high of 56 on Tuesday to 46 today.

In Letterkenny there are 30 patients waiting for admission with a further 16 on trolleys in Sligo University Hospital.

A meeting of the Emergency Department taskforce is ongoing today to discuss the issue.

Some emergency measures have been announced with 63 extra acute beds and 60 stepdown beds confirmed last night.

The INMO says there is not enough nurses to staff the extra beds.

But Minister Simon Harris says that’s not the case:

Nursing Homes Ireland says over 700 free beds in nursing homes nationwide, including 18 in Donegal, could be used to alleviate the trolley crisis in hospitals.

Meanwhile, A Donegal GP says schools should consider closing to try and contain the flu.

Former Fianna Fail TD and Minister of State Jim McDaid says this is one of the worst flu epidemics he has seen in his 40 years working as a GP.

He says the only thing that will kill it is a long spell of cold weather.

But in the meantime he says measures need to be taken to contain it: