The Department of Public Health in the Midwest is calling on people in Clare to help frontline workers by staying at home and strictly following all guidelines under level five restrictions.
It comes as a new record has been set in the number of COVID cases in intensive care units around the country.
There are 158 people in ICUs nationally, among them nine at University Hospital Limerick.
The region’s main hospital has the second highest number of virus cases of any hospital in the country.
Since December 18th, and amid this third wave of pandemic, over 7,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the midwest, with the vast majority of those in Limerick.
The impact of this is now being seen in hospitals, locally and nationally.
There are now 1,700 patients with Covid-19 in hospitals across the country – 124 of them at University Hospital Limerick
The number in ICUs now stands at 158, higher than the peak of the first wave on April 10th and 11th.
Nine of those are in Dooradoyle.
The HSE’s Dr Vida Hamilton says unfortunately hospital numbers will continue to rise.
The situation has prompted the Department of Public Health Midwest to issue a fresh appeal to the public, in light of what they describe as the rapid spread of infection.
This, they say, is due to socialising by some people before, during and after Christmas.
It says numerous outbreaks and clusters have been noted in various social settings, including private households, among extended families, large house gatherings, the hospitality sector, and in workplaces.
Preliminary evidence indicates that these cases have contributed to the number of outbreaks in long-term care facilities and healthcare settings.
They’re urging people across Clare, Limerick and Tipperary to help frontline workers and stay at home, as the region’s main hospital deals with record numbers of covid patients.
Infectious Disease Specialist at the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Professor Sam McConkey, says health workers are bracing themselves for more death and serious illness.
The INMO’s Midwest Representative says nurses at University Hospital Limerick are struggling to maintain a safe service for themselves and for patients.
Mary Fogarty says up to 30% of nursing staff in some areas of the hospital are currently off duty to covid-related reasons, which she claims is exascerbated by already vacant posts.
She’s calling on the HSE to engage with their union so they can ensure that every step is being taken to ensure a safe environment for staff and patients.