GPs in Cork have noted an increase in patients being referred for Covid-19 testing in recent weeks, with further increases expected as schools reopen.
Recent figures revealed that 44 cases of Covid-19 were reported in Cork in the 14 days up to August 28, the sixth-highest figure nationally. The figure is, however, significantly lower than in Dublin or Kildare where 655 and 334 cases were reported, respectively, in the same period.
Cork GP, Dr Mike Thompson, said his practice has seen a ‘massive uptake’ in test referrals in recent weeks.
Dr Nick Flynn said he has also seen an increase.
Meanwhile, Dr Mary Favier, president of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), said referrals will only increase further in the coming weeks due to the return of schools.
She said many children will have respiratory illnesses over the winter months and will need to be tested for Covid-19.
Youghal GP, Dr Declan Mathews, said this will have a major impact on testing capacity.
Dr Mathews said he has referred patients for Covid-19 testing from his practice and from SouthDoc in recent weeks.
“We’re also seeing more kids being referred for testing than we were previously.
“Having said that, I haven’t seen an increase in positive cases coming back.”
Dr Mathews warned of significant increased pressure on testing capacity in the coming weeks “but that’s not a reason for schools not to reopen,” he said.
“There is already a slight delay in getting results back from testing - I know patients who got tested last Wednesday and were still awaiting results on Sunday - and this delay is probably down to increased pressure on testers.
“This pressure will absolutely get worse in the next two or three weeks with kids going back to school,” he added.
A primary school in Dublin yesterday was required to send a class home after one of the children tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr Mathews said hopefully there won’t be many such cases. However, he said they we’re already seeing increased referrals for both adults and children, which is something we hadn’t seen up to now.”
Dr Mathews explained increased referrals may come as a result of children mingling and catching normal bugs with similar symptoms to that of Covid-19.
“We’re still going to have to err on the side of caution and test them if they have symptoms,” he said.