A SINGLE Cork GP surgery referred 23 patients for testing for Covid-19 yesterday, as general practitioners began referring patients for the test through their IT system.
Under the new system, GPs will not carry out testing themselves but can order the test electronically through their Healthlink system.
People who call looking for a test will be assessed before a decision is made to refer them.
People are being urged to be patient when calling about a test, as surgeries are experiencing large volumes of calls. They are also being reminded that out of hours services cannot refer patients.
Cork-based GP and Irish College of General Practitioners’ clinical lead on Covid-19, Dr Nuala O’Connor, said 74 people contacted the practice where she is based yesterday with queries and concerns about Covid-19. Six doctors were on duty at the large practice.
She said while 23 of those who made contact were referred for testing, it is expected that most of the test results will be negative.
While there were reported teething problems with the new system yesterday, Dr O’Connor said it was back up and running by lunchtime.
The criteria for testing for Covid-19 were expanded at the weekend, and Dr O’Connor said it is hoped that this will help to give a clearer picture of what is happening in the community regarding the outbreak.
She said if people have any symptoms, such as a sudden onset of fever or cough, they should self-isolate, even if their symptoms are very mild.
“We need to slow down how it spreads in the community so less people are sick at the same time,” she said.
Dr O’Connor also said that many GP surgeries will be closed today for St Patrick’s Day and that out-of-hours services cannot refer patients for the coronavirus test.
She implored people with concerns not to contact emergency service numbers 999/112 for information regarding Covid-19, which were overwhelmed with calls at the weekend when GPs were not available.