Covid-19 pandemic: Second wave hits frontlines

Key units in Kerry’s frontline defences against Covid have already been laid low by the second wave of the virus – with members of both the Listowel Fire Service and the Garda Traffic Corps self-isolating after colleagues tested positive.

erry County Council stood the Listowel Fire Service unit down – bar three members – on Monday, as per its risk management guidelines, after a member tested positive for Covid.

The Kerryman understands the firefighter in question had no symptoms up until the start of this week when he developed a headache and joint pain.

The Listowel Fire Service had been split into two units as a precautionary measure prior to the positive test as it happened, but all but three members are nonetheless now self-isolating and waiting on the results of tests carried out at the drive-through testing centre in Ballymullen Barracks, Tralee, on Tuesday.

At least 20 gardaí, mostly comprised of members of the Castleisland-based Traffic Corps, are also now self-isolating after they became close contacts of a positive case.

The close contact is understood to have occurred at a special training course on road traffic policing they had attended in a hotel in Killarney. The person who tested positive is understood not to be seriously ill. An Garda Síochána say that everyone who took part in the course maintained social distancing, wore face masks and used hand sanitiser. But all are now self-isolating as a precautionary measure due to the prolonged nature of the contact.

The impact of the virus on the emergency frontlines will not affect either the Garda’s policing or Fire Service cover for the Listowel area, with some Tralee fire fighters moving to the Listowel station to temporarily take up position there on Tuesday as Ballybunion remains on standby to assist.

Kerry County Council Chief Executive Moira Murrell assured Councillors by email on Monday of sufficient cover for the service: “I wish to give assurances that the situation is being managed and proper contingency planning by the Fire Services Management is currently in place.”

Gardaí said the impact on the unit in Castleisland would not affect policing: “There is currently no impact on Operation Fanacht or other services of An Garda Síochána in the Kerry Division.”

It is not clear where the grip of the virus is greatest in the county with the most recent breakdown of Local Electoral Area published on Thursday.

Listowel was the least affected area of the county in those figures, but many in the town are now anxiously waiting on the publication of the updated weekly this Thursday following the news of the Fire Service and the temporary closure of up to at least four businesses over close contacts and confirmed cases. The Kenmare area was the worst affected with a rate of infection of 91.8 per 100,000. – News