Doctors have urged the public to comply “fully” with Covid-19 restrictions, as they warn that another shutdown of non-Covid healthcare services this year would be a “catastrophe”.
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), representing over 5,000 doctors across all specialties, has warned that departments of public health across the country are under “extreme pressure” with the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases.
It said the country now had an “extremely short” window to avoid its health system becoming overwhelmed.
Departments of Public Health all around the country are under extreme pressure with the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. Covid-19 is no longer under control.
“Departments of Public Health all around the country are under extreme pressure with the rapid rise in Covid-19 cases. Covid-19 is no longer under control,” Dr Ina Kelly, Chair of the Public Health Committee of the IMO said.
“If this continues we will not be able to protect our most vulnerable in society so we really need the support of the public to be the first line of defence and keep fighting this virus.
“If cases continue to rise it will be a catastrophe for our health system and will cause untold suffering for patients who require diagnostic and scheduled care.”
Failure to isolate
Chair of the GP Committee of the IMO Dr Denis McCauley said that it was essential that people who were awaiting test results for the virus self-isolate.
The IMO has outlined guidance for close contacts and those with symptoms of Covid-19:
- If you had symptoms of Covid-19 and received a negative test result, you should continue to self-isolate until you have not had any symptoms for 48 hours.
- If you had symptoms of Covid-19 and received a positive test result, you should continue to self-isolate until you have had no fever for 5 days; AND it has been 10 days since you first developed symptoms (or 14 days if you are in long-term residential care or you recently left hospital after treatment for Covid-19).
- If you are a close contact of a confirmed case and you test positive even without symptoms, you must self-isolate for ten days.
- If you are a close contact of a confirmed case, you should restrict your movements for 14 days even if you receive a negative Covid-19 test result.
“In General Practice we are seeing increasing calls in relation to Covid-19 but the worrying part is that those people who know they are contacts or are awaiting tests are not self-isolating until they get their test results,” Dr McCauley said.
Dr McCauley cautioned that the public were in danger of forgetting the “basic messages” amid conversation about restrictions and lockdowns, including reducing social contacts to a minimum, not partaking in activities that involve mixing with others, washing hands regularly and wearing a mask.
He warned that close contacts failing to restrict their movements for two weeks after a negative test for the virus were “greatly” contributing to its spread.
“We are seeing a lot of close contacts of confirmed cases not restricting their movements for 14 days after receiving a negative test result,” he said.
“This is greatly contributing to the spread of the virus. Even if someone who is a close contact of a confirmed case tested negative every day for 14 days, but they must still self-isolate for those 14 days.”