Under normal circumstances the combination of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend and the good weather would have seen a mini exodus to beaches along the coast and to nearby mountains and forest trails.
But local GPs are pleading with people, including those with holiday homes in places such as Ardmore, to stay put this weekend and until restrictions are lifted.
“We’re still expecting a surge so it’s vital that everyone stays at home this weekend,” explained Dr Donogh Cotter of the Family First Clinic in Fermoy.
He added: “Every person and their actions matter now. The best thing you can do for the old and vulnerable, and also healthcare workers, is to remain at home. And if you know of others deciding to flout those rules in any way please tell them to act responsibly.
“We’re all inter-connected, every reckless action could have serious consequences for everyone. And the gardai will be on our roads to ensure everybody is complying.”
There are also concerns that there may be plans for family gatherings beyond one household this weekend.
“We’re all missing that close contact with our loved ones, grandparents, parents, grandchildren and so on, but just keep in mind that you can feel absolutely fine and still be passing the virus to others. Your actions could put your loved ones at risk. Just think about that,” said Dr Declan Herlihy of LivingHealth in Mitchelstown.
GPs in the area are also concerned that teenagers from different families are still gathering and there have been reports that children are still meeting for playdates, which GPs have described as being “completely irresponsible.”
In their attempts to keep local people informed about what to do if they feel unwell, GPs are particularly eager to focus on shortness of breath and older people suddenly becoming confused.
Dr Sura Aldeen, of the Fermoy-Rathcormac Medical Practice, said: “If you start feeling short of breath, regardless of your age, you need to contact your GP (or SouthDoc out-of-hours) immediately. They’ll talk to you on the phone first and advise on next steps. We really won’t be sending people to hospital unless it’s necessary.
“People may be afraid to call thinking they’ll be automatically sent to hospital – but this is often not the case. Breathlessness may start mildly but, if you have Covid19, can deteriorate very quickly – within 12 to 24 hours. Don’t take any risks, contact us if you’re breathless at all.”
Community assessment hubs are being set up across the country. Here people with suspected or confirmed cases of Covid-19 will be examined by GPs to assess if they need to go to hospital. Your own GP can refer you to the hub if necessary. Nearby hubs are at the Gilbert Centre in Mallow and at St Mary’s Health Campus in Gurranabraher.
As the days and weeks pass, more recommendations are forthcoming about how best to avoid getting the virus and fighting it should you become infected.
“The Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute has recommended that all people aged over 70 take Vitamin D daily supplements. These are available, without prescription, from your local pharmacy or supermarket and we are encouraging our older patients to take these if they are not already on them.
“The recommended dose is 25 to 50 micrograms – so check the tablet strength beforehand,” said Dr Charlie McCarthy of the Park Clinic in Fermoy.
GPs are still calling on patients to contact them if they have non Covid-19 ailments.
Dr Carol Collins, Fermoy, said: “If you delay contacting us with issues, such as abdominal pain, chest pain or signs of a stroke, the problem can escalate. These issues need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. It could be life threatening to delay seeking urgent medical advice for these symptoms.”
For all the information you need on Covid-19/coronavirus and how to self-isolate then visit HSE.ie
The GP group in Fermoy and Mitchelstown will provide weekly updates in The Avondhu on Covid-19/coronavirus advice, specific to your local area.