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Infection closes unit at hospital

The intensive care unit at Belfast City Hospital has been closed to new admissions after two patients were found to have a bacterial infection. They are now being treated in isolation in other wards. Emergency patients are being cared for in the hospital’s high dependency unit. The unit plans to re-open by the next day.

Dr Ann Loughrey, consultant medical microbiologist at the hospital, said a deep clean of the unit was under way. “This is a very quiet time of the year for us and we took this opportunity to give the intensive care unit an intensive clean, which actually we find little time and opportunity to do when it is run to capacity,” she said. “Normal cleaning takes place on a regular basis.”

She said she could not remember the last time the unit had been closed for specialist cleaning in the recent past.
Dr Loughrey said an investigation would take place to establish how the patients contracted what the hospital described as a “multi-resistant acinetobacter infection”.

The hospital said the bacteria were present both in and outside healthcare premises and “among the many organisms which can affect vulnerable patients in intensive care units”.