Over 800 staff are absent due to Covid-19 across the Western Trust area as cases of the Omicron variant have soared, it has been revealed.

The news comes as many sectors in society are struggling to operate as normal as the impact of Covid-19 and the new Omicron variant continues to make a major impact on daily life in Fermanagh.

The South West Acute Hospital remains under immense pressure. A Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) spokesperson said: “As of 30 December 2021, 802 staff were not at work due to Covid-19. This includes 344 members of staff who are currently self-isolating for various reasons, including being a close contact, staff who are isolating because they are pregnant and staff who are off due to childcare issues.

“The Western Trust’s total sickness absence for non-Covid sickness and Covid sickness accounted for 8.86 per cent of its total workforce for November 2021.”

Elsewhere, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) did not provide the Impartial Reporter with figures of the current level of staff absences and more specifically staff absences in Enniskillen as a result of Covid-19 prior to this newspaper print deadline.

However, it is understood NIAS has been under major pressure with the service advising on Friday evening “anyone who can make their own way to Emergency Departments to do so, instead of calling 999 in the first instance” on Friday evening while reminding patients that “in life-threatening situations 999 calls should be used immediately".

The Impartial Reporter asked the PSNI for figures relating to the number PSNI officer absences over the festive period for the Fermanagh and Omagh District. A PSNI spokesperson directed this newspaper to file a Freedom of Information (FOI) request for access to these figures, a FOI has been filed and The Impartial Reporter awaits a response within the legal time frame.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council who looks after essential aspects in the life of the area including waste collection and public cemeteries reported no disruption of service in recent weeks.

A spokesperson said: “Thus far there has been no interruption of services due to Covid-19 related staff absences, however there has been some minor impact on operational aspects of service delivery, which are currently being managed through service contingency plans.

“Covid-19-related staff absences are reported to the Council on a monthly basis through the Policy and Resources Committee. Previous reports are available to view on the website.”

“The reports can be accessed at the respective Policy and Resources Committee meetings and are listed under Staff Matters. The next report will be published with the P&R Papers on January 14.”

Looking to the impact on business, following a circuit breaker period in the past week, the Lough Erne Resort reopened yesterday, in a social media statement, Manager Joanne Walsh said: “Lough Erne Resort reawakens today, Wednesday January 5 and looks forward to welcoming you our valued guests, members, neighbours and suppliers back.”

Other local businesses including some pubs and restaurants in the County are also planning to re-open this week after taking short circuit breakers. The Crowe’s Nest confirmed that they also reopened on Wednesday following a circuit breaker closure from December 28.