TEN PREGNANT women and several members of staff at Dublin's Rotunda hospital have tested positive for coronavirus, the hospital master has confirmed.
The Rotunda, which is Ireland's busiest maternity hospital, has had strict visiting measures in place for a number of weeks in order to prevent the spread of the virus.
Hospital master Professor Fergal Malone confirmed the worrying news on RTÉ's Ireland AM yesterday morning, Wednesday 1 April, and has stressed that the hospital is doing everything in its power to keep its staff and patients safe.
Professor Malone told the morning show that it was "not surprising" that the hospital has 10 patients confirmed to have the virus given the spread of coronavirus across the country, but said they are following "very clear guidelines and protocols on how to provide exemplary care for patients irrespective of Covid-19 infection or not".
"We just have to make sure that they remain safe and healthy, that their babies remain safe and healthy and that staff remain safe and healthy and that we minimise transmission.
"There are clear protocols and practices in place that minimise that."
He went on to state that all mothers and babies confirmed to have contracted the virus "have done well and are recovering well".
He also stressed that there is "no proven cases" where the virus was passed on from mother to baby in the womb or during delivery, but that "the cases we're aware of young babies, newborns, having Covid-19" likely received the infection after birth.
A number of staff, reported to be under 20 out of a total of 1,000 staff members, have also been confirmed to be carrying the virus.
He reassured viewers that "to the best of our knowledge", the cases were that of community transmission, picked up elsewhere but not originating within the hospital.
Any staff who have any symptoms whatsoever or who have had any possible exposure are being told to immediately self-isolate and not to come in to work.
The Rotunda hospital have since imposed further restrictions to their visitor policy in order to protect patients and staff, including disallowing the presence of a birth partner during delivery if any woman or her partner is Covid-19 positive, has been in contact with a confirmed case or is showing symptoms.
We have made the decision to apply further restrictions to our visiting policy.
You can view our full restrictions at the link below - https://t.co/Mz70XDrvgk#COVID19 #COVID19ireland pic.twitter.com/CqMDEKI5Ch
— The Rotunda Hospital (@RotundaHospital) April 2, 2020
This is, the hospital said, partly due to "a new mother with COVID-19 infection may become quite unwell during the postpartum period, it will be crucial for her partner to be kept as healthy as possible at home to care for her and their potentially vulnerable newborn".
"These are tough decisions, but we have made them for the safety & welfare of all," the hospital said in a statement.
"We want to reassure you that, while we know we cannot replace your birth partner, our midwives & doctors will care for you, support you, & be with you every step of your labour journey."
The Rotunda has also made the "heartbreaking decision" to allow only the mother of a child in the NICU to visit the infant, and only for a period of 15-30 minutes a day.
The full restrictions can be seen here.