New visiting restrictions are being introduced in nursing homes in Dublin for the next three weeks to prevent the spread of coronavirus cases due to higher infections in the county.
Nursing homes are being asked to reduce the number of visitors to one nominated visitor per resident, down from the current number of four, to reduce resident contacts.
The Department of Health has told nursing homes the measures will remain in place for three weeks from Sunday, September 13th and the situation will be kept under review.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre, which issues public health guidelines on behalf of the Health Service Executive, has been asked to update its visiting guidance accordingly.
The guidance is aimed at all long-term residential care facilities, including nursing homes.
The new rules are being introduced at the recommendation of the State’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), which met this week to consider the higher number of cases in Dublin.
Mass testing of nursing homes to identify Covid-19 cases where people are not showing symptoms to prevent outbreaks will continue despite a surge in demand for testing from the increased number of people showing symptoms being referred by GPs.
Nursing homes are among the most vulnerable congregated settings to the coronavirus disease, accounting for more than 55 per cent of the 1,781 deaths from Covid-19 in the State.
The latest figures on Covid-19 infections show Dublin has the highest rate of infection over the past 14 days for every 100,000 people at 73.2, compared with the national average of 40.2.
The incidence rate within Dublin ranges from 36.7 per 100,000 in Dublin South to 93.8 per 100,000 in Dublin South East, according to the HPSC’s latest 14-day report on Covid-19.
The infection rate across Dublin is still less than half the level recorded in Kildare last month that led to the lockdown of the county following outbreaks in meat and food processing plants.
After Dublin, Limerick is the county with the highest rate of incidence of the disease at 66.2 per 100,000 people, followed by Kildare at 61.6 per 100,000.
State health officials permitted nursing homes to reopen to two named visitors per resident on June 15th after a three-month blanket ban on visits during the worst of the pandemic.
At the end of July, restrictions were eased again, allowing nursing home residents have as many nominated visitors as they wished, though visits were generally limited to two people at a time.
On August 20th NPHET limited visiting to four nominated visitors per resident in response to rising infection rates.