Health workers in West Cork are facing a wave of Covid-19 infections in the coming weeks, a GP has warned.
Paul O’Sullivan, a family doctor in Bantry, said West Cork had only seen occasional cases of Covid-19 since the pandemic arrived in Ireland.
However, Dr O’Sullivan said that since the reopening of colleges in Cork and Ireland generally, there has been a noticeable increase of referrals and cases in the region.
There were 76 new cases reported in Cork today. This was second only to Dublin, with 91 cases. There were 506 new cases nationally.
Speaking to The Echo, Dr O’Sullivan said he referred just one patient for testing in the whole of last week, but has since referred around seven patients in the past 48 hours or so.
He believes the increase in cases is linked to students from West Cork who live in Cork City to attend college returning home for the weekend.
“We had worried that this would happen once the college season kicked off and people were mixing and mingling,” said Dr O’Sullivan.
“We were relatively lucky in West Cork in that we only had occasional cases. But since lockdown has ended and colleges reopened, we have seen cases brought back to the area and spread in people who have been in contact with students through social or sporting activities.
“Over the last couple of days, most of my colleagues in the region have been reporting a noticeable increase in the number of cases and referrals.”
“We feel that we’re going to be looking at a wall of infection in the coming days and weeks.
“It’s like being on a beach and seeing a huge wave coming towards us and we can feel the ground shaking.”
Dr O’Sullivan said he feels more rural areas across Ireland are facing a similar scenario as students travelled to and from college in recent weeks.
“It will probably overwhelm the system,” he warned. “Public health is overwhelmed and in need of more resources and support.
“Without them, contact tracing is falling back on GPs who are already under pressure with a number of other issues. This is only going to get worse in the next few days and weeks.”
Almost 650 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Cork in the 14 days to October 6.
Latest figures from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show that 5,925 cases were reported nationally over the two-week period, including 645 in Cork.
The report shows that the 14-day incidence of confirmed Covid-19 cases per 100,000 population is now 118.8 in Cork, significantly higher than Waterford, which has the lowest incident rate in the country at 31.8.