Two hospital emergency departments (EDs) in Newry and Downpatrick are to close temporarily as part of the coronavirus pandemic plans.
The move by the Southern Health Trust will see staff deployed to care for patients affected by the virus.
Newry’s Daisy Hill Hospital emergency room will close at 2:00 p.m. GMT on Saturday, while Downe Hospital emergency room closure will take effect at 8:00 a.m.BST on Monday.
Craigavon’s emergency department will remain open.
Some of his planned surgical work moves to Daisy Hill.
Maternity services will continue at Craigavon Hospital and Daisy Hill.
Intensive care hospital director Mel McClements called the closure of Daisy Hill ED “temporary” and said “it was not a decision that was taken lightly.”
“This decision allows us to consolidate our expertise in emergency, intensive care and respiratory care on one site, which will provide us with a much more robust service in the coming weeks.
“If we do not work on making these changes now, we risk seeing services collapse at both sites, as we expect the workforce to be affected in the coming weeks. ”
In addition, at the Downe Hospital, the day procedure unit for minor injuries and the outpatient unit will also temporarily close at 8:00 am BST on Monday.
All hospital wards will remain open and the midwife-led unit at Downe will continue to provide community midwifery services, but not deliveries.
The general service outside of office hours will continue to provide services as usual, with the same capacity to admit patients, although this is regularly reviewed as the general services of the general practitioner are under increasing pressure
Acute mental health and psychiatry for elderly patients will also be open.
Across Northern Ireland, major changes are being made to hospital services as part of plans to cope with the expected influx of Covid-19 patients.
Earlier Thursday, the health ministry said most of the patients would end up in the hospital.
Limited exceptions include maternity and palliative care.
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The department has defined its plans to deal with the outbreak which includes the urgent release of all medically fit patients and the priority of patient care.