There has been a steady increase in patients presenting at Mullingar hospital with flu symptoms and respiratory type conditions across all age groups.
That's according to the Irish East Hospital Group (IEHG) with responsibility for the Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar.
According to the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), there are 21 people on trolleys in Mullingar Hospital today, Wednesday, and 26 in Tullamore.
In a statement issued by the IEHG, they have said that patients with a less serious illnesses are being asked to contact their GP in the first instance where possible.
"Management would ask that, where possible, patients with flu-like illness / cold symptoms telephone their GP/or pharmacist in the first instance to seek the best advice, rather than presenting at the hospital’s Emergency Department.
"In addition, people due to attend the hospital for an outpatient clinic appointment during the current week who may have symptoms of flu are advised to check with the hospital before attending as an appointment may need to be rescheduled in order to prevent the further spread of flu to both patients and staff.
"People in high-risk groups are again encouraged (if they have not already done so) to avail of the flu vaccine from their GP or pharmacist.
"Regional Hospital Mullingar thanks the public for their cooperation at this time," read the statement.
High-risk groups are:
All those aged 65 years and older
People including children with chronic illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, chronic neurological disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders and diabetes
Those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment and all cancer patients
All pregnant women. The vaccine can be given safely at any stage of pregnancy.
Those with morbid obesity i.e. Body Mass Index ≥ 40
Residents of nursing homes, old people's homes and other long stay facilities
Healthcare workers and carers of those in risk groups
Additional public information on the symptoms and how to care for Flu
The symptoms of influenza usually develop over a matter of a few hours and include a high temperature, sore muscles, dry cough, headache and sore throat. This is different from the common cold, which tends to come on more gradually and usually includes a runny nose and a normal temperature.
How to Care for Flu
Those individuals in the ‘at risk’ groups can get the vaccine for free as they are at much greater risk of becoming seriously unwell if they catch flu, with many ending up in hospital. Most people, unless they are in an ‘at risk’ group, can get better themselves at home. Advice, tips, information and videos on getting over flu and other common illnesses are available at a new HSE website, www.undertheweather.ie The site was developed by the HSE along with GPs and pharmacists and is a great resource for people to get advice and get better.
Anyone who gets flu should stay at home, rest, drink plenty of fluids and use over-the-counter remedies like paracetamol to ease symptoms. Anyone in one of the high-risk groups should contact their GP if they develop influenza symptoms. If you need to visit your GP or the Emergency Department, please phone first to explain that you might have flu.
Stopping Flu from Spreading
Covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough and sneeze, disposing of the tissue as soon as possible and cleaning your hands as soon as you can are important measures in helping prevent the spread of influenza and other germs and reducing the risk of transmission.
Please note that this public notice will be in place until further notice.