Antrim cleric's appeal as hospital battles COVID

AN ANTRIM priest has issued a strongly-worded appeal to the public as scores more people succumb to the coronavirus.

Father James O’Reilly, (left) based at St Joseph’s on the Greystone Road, took to Facebook after a grim weekend and strongly urged people to abide by the guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19.

The priest, who has been hailed as ‘inspirational’ for his online Mass services and other innovations during the pandemic, said: “I’m just back from Antrim Area anointing a man in his 50s, tomorrow I bury a man from our Parish who had so much more life to live.

“I get the economic challanges and it must be so hard for people.

“ But this s**t is real, people are dying, please take it seriously.

“ It may not have come to your door yet, but it will.”

His hard hitting comments have been broadly supported, garnering hundreds of likes, shares and comments.

Meanwhile, the Northern Trust has cancelled the majority of its planned or elective surgery to both ‘free up staff to support the significant COVID-19 surge experience in the Trust and to reduce the clinical risk to patients who are or may be exposed to the virus’.

On Monday, the Chief Executives of all Northern Ireland’s health trusts joined forces to issue ‘a stark warning’ about the huge pressures staff are facing.

“This is not a simple matter of putting up more beds. We need the staff to care for the increased number of patients.” they said.

“Pre-existing staffing pressures and staff absence because of COVID, and other reasons, mean that those staff simply aren’t there.

“Our staff, although exhausted, will once more go above and beyond to do the best they can for as many people as possible, and we thank them for it.

“Never has the phrase ‘all in it together’ been so pertinent and just so important.

“The COVID-19 vaccines provide the long-term hope and the current lockdown offers the opportunity to shorten the duration of the current surge.

“The public can play their part too by staying at home, practising social distancing and good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings.”

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