Cork doctors have voiced concerns that some people with Covid-19 symptoms, those awaiting results of tests and people identified as close contacts are continuing to mix with others.
Dr Nuala O’Connor, who is Covid-19 lead at the Irish College of General Practitioners and is also a Cork GP said that GPs were still seeing people with symptoms of Covid who are going to work or mixing with others.
“We find that we are contacting people to say ‘I’m confirming your test is positive’ and they suddenly say ‘‘I sent the kids to school’,” Dr O’Connor said.
This concern was echoed by Dr Niamh Lynch, a consultant in paediatrics at the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork who said there appears to be a phenomenon where people still go out while they are waiting to find out if they may have Covid-19 and are “then finding out they are positive and having to go back and retrospectively inform all those after people they’ve come into contact with after having the swab that they now have Covid”.
She explained: “It is so important that if you or a household member have been sent for a swab, everyone has to self-isolate until the result of that swab is back.
“It’s not just the individual but everyone in that household has to self-isolate.
“Essentially the house has to go into its own lockdown.
“You can't go for a swab and go to the shop,” she said.
There are also concerns that people who are identified as close contacts of people with Covid-19 are not restricting their movements, despite the fact that they should do so for 14 days.
“GPs are being put under a lot of pressure to test people who are close contacts who don’t have any symptoms,” Dr O’Connor said, explaining that some people may think if they receive a ‘Covid-not detected’ result, they might falsely think they can go back to work.
“The other thing we are finding is that a lot of employers are putting pressure on people to get their GP to test them,” she said adding, “but they can't go back to work if they are a close contact. We need employers also to understand. The reason we don't want that close contact going back to the workplace is that if they are incubating or growing the virus, then they are going to infect other people at work.”
Dr O’ Connor said that even if hypothetically someone identified as a close contact had 14 tests 14 days in a row and each single one in a row was negative, they would still need to stay at home and restrict their movement for 14 days.
In situations where a person with symptoms is sent for a Covid-19 test, and no evidence of the virus is detected by the test, they need to self-isolate until 48 hours after their symptoms resolve.
The Cork GP acknowledged that there may be some confusion around the advice.
She advised that anyone with questions around self-isolating or restricting their movements should log on to www.hse.ie.