WITH the two-year anniversary of the recognised outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic on our shores passing this week, the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) remains under high pressure treating the virus' patients – including 36 Covid-19-positive patients.

Despite the reduced amount of public attention on the coronavirus, and the substantial easing of related restrictions, Covid-19 is quietly continuing to makes its presence heavily felt by many, two years on from its first appearance in County Fermanagh and much of the Western world.

According to yesterday’s (Wednesday) update from the Department of Health, the SWAH remains under significant pressure, and was operating at 14.53 per cent over capacity.

The figures revealed that there were 36 Covid-19 patients in the busy hospital, but no Covid-19 patients in its ICU.

According to the update, the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area recorded 171 new Covid-19 cases within the past 24 hours, bringing the total amount of cases locally to 39,368 people.

From March 2-8, there were 651 positive Covid-19 cases recorded in the area’s postal districts, with the BT74 area recording 213 cases; BT92 seeing 194; BT93 seeing 93; and BT94 seeing 151.

The seven-day positive cases rate per 100,000 people in the Council area was 930, which equates to 1,091 positive cases.

The Council area’s Covid-19 death figure remains 145 people, with no new Covid-19-related deaths recorded locally in the past seven days.

The Department's update follows on the heels of Covid rules surrounding travel being further relaxed, despite the high number of cases present in the community and across Northern Ireland.

As part of the rules changes, from 4am this Friday, all international Covid-19 travel restrictions will be removed for those travelling to Northern Ireland.

Travellers will also no longer be required to take tests or complete a Passenger Locator Form (PLF). This move will keep the North in line with other UK regions.

Minister for Health Robin Swann said: “I have always said I would not keep restrictions in place longer than necessary. As we continue to make steady steps out of the Covid restrictions, the removal of the International Travel Regulations will enable freer travel for all ahead of the Easter period.”

However, work will continue across the UK and beyond to identify and manage any potential Covid-19 variants that may emerge, following on from the dominance of the current Omicron variant.

Travellers who are feeling unwell are still advised to follow the public health advice and should not travel; any travellers to other countries should continue to follow the relevant restrictions and advice that has been set out by the country they are visiting.