The clinical director of Cork University Hospital, Professor Conor Deasy has said that it was inevitable that elective treatments would be cancelled as Covid numbers grow and hospital staff are unavailable because they too have the virus.
People needed to do the right thing and society had to show moral responsibility, he urged.
“We're under considerable pressure, this wave is different to the first wave in that when this hit in March we were able to effectively empty the hospital.
"In other words we were able to discharge patients to long term care facilities, to community hospitals, back to the community, we were in a position then - and we thought it was the right thing to do to turn down and in some cases turn off elective activity,” he told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland.
Such a course of action brought with it its own morbidity and mortalities, he warned and there was a need to keep the non Covid stream going while at the same time dealing with “the tsunami of patients” that are coming in with respiratory illness and respiratory symptoms that could be Covid.
Such was the level of concern that even patients coming in without respiratory symptoms were being diagnosed with Covid.
“Early on this journey we took the decision that we would treat all patients as having Covid, we would don PPE for all patients that required a physical examination in the emergency department, be they on the Covid or non Covid pathway.
“With the wildcat appearances of Covid you do run the risk of staff not thinking of it being Covid, and potentially being identified as contacts so we have challenges in terms of that. We have challenges in terms of portering staff, in terms of nursing staff, in terms of HCAs being stood down for the two weeks. We wish them all the very best.
“We hope that they do not develop Covid and that they come back to the frontlines ready to fight and to continue the fight. It is a challenge for us and it impacts on the ability of the hospital to deliver care and sometimes care that can be postponed is required to be postponed.
"The people that take the hit on that are those awaiting elective treatments. We're doing our very best to identify those that won't be put at increased risk by this situation.
“Inevitably people will be discommoded, people will have their treatments postponed in some cases and we're not happy about that. But it is a needs must in the context of a pandemic.
“We will do our very best for people that come through the door, we always do, but we need people to do the right thing at this stage not wait for the government to declare whatever level we are at.
“The advice is simple - stay isolated, keep out of the way of other people, this is a human to human spread, we need people to do the right thing and society to show moral responsibility.”
Prof. Deasy said that personally he would not like to run the gauntlet of catching Covid. “The likelihood is, I'm a healthy man, I'll get over this fine, but there's a five per cent chance that I won't. I wouldn't like to play Russian Roulette with my life in that way.