By Graham Clifford
As the HSE announced changes regarding who will now be tested for Covid-19, GPs in Fermoy and Mitchelstown have urged people to act as if they already have the virus should they display any of the symptoms.
“This is a worrying time for everybody. Everyone has a role to play. If you develop any of the symptoms of Covid-19 then don’t just brush them off. You have to be so careful and behave exactly the same as if you had a positive test,” explained Dr Brian Carr of the LivingHealth Medical Clinic in Mitchelstown.
“We know it’s so hard, so stressful, so strange, but if everyone with symptoms takes responsibility for not spreading infection, there is a strong hope that we can give our hospitals a chance to cope, flatten the curve effectively and save lives”.
Up to Wednesday morning of this week, GPs were asked to refer every person with a cough, fever, runny nose or muscle ache for Covid-19 testing.
Now, though, because of limitations in the availability of tests – both in terms of testing kits and laboratories to process them – the HSE has changed the testing rules.
Now the HSE tests will only apply to people who are most likely to end up in hospital with Covid-19.
Self-isolate for 14 days from start of symptoms
Remember around 80% of those who contract the virus will display little or mild symptoms, 14% will require hospitalisation and 6% will need ICU.
“The categories of people who will now be tested will be those, with symptoms, who have diabetes, COPD or asthma, heart disease, stroke or TIA, kidney or liver disease or are smokers – or anyone who lives in the same house as someone in these risk groups.
“Also, pregnant women, healthcare workers and close contacts of a positive test case or anyone who lives with these,” explained Fermoy’s Dr Barry O’Sullivan.
He continued: “The advice for people not in these categories is to self-isolate for 14 days from the start of your symptoms.”
Dr. Elmary Parker, Fermoy, explained that the testing rules are evolving and will be dependent on the availability of testing equipment.
She said: “Our hope as GPs is that there will be greater testing capacity very soon – so the rules may change again and the categories of those eligible for testing may expand. But unfortunately, we have no control over this.”
GPs not give test results
Dr Parker continued: “If you’ve already been referred for a test via your GP, but it hasn’t yet taken place, please contact your GP again who will advise what needs to happen. Patients who have already been tested will have their samples processed.”
GPs want people to understand fully how notification of the test results are being distributed.
“GPs are not given the test results. These are given to the patient – by a telephone call if you have tested positive or by text message if you have tested negative. You will hear the results before your GP does,” explained Dr Barry O’Sullivan.
And amid concerns over the closure of the SouthDoc base in Fermoy, local GPs, as a collective, have been told by SouthDoc that this is a temporary strategic measure.
Dr Brian Carr said: “Fermoy and Mitchelstown GPs pleaded with SouthDoc to maintain its base in Fermoy. They have assured us that the closure of the SouthDoc centre here, along with others in the county, is a temporary measure and related solely to the Covid-19 situation.
“They have decided to maintain a smaller number of centres so that if doctors and other staff are out sick, SouthDoc can continue to function. Local GPs are working in the SouthDoc centre in Mallow during this health emergency.”
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.