A CORK GP with around 40 years experience in the field of medicine has said he has never seen anything like the coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the globe.
Dr Declan Mathews, a general practitioner in Youghal, compared the current pandemic to something only seen in science fiction.
Speaking to The Echo, Dr Mathews revealed that GP surgeries in Cork are under immense pressure from calls about Covid-19 and everyday illnesses.
“All surgeries are very hectic at the moment,” he said.
“We are being advised to test everybody with similar symptoms now and we’re doing that through the online healthlink.
“Certainly in the first few days that was seeing delays which was causing problems,” he added.
“But it’s working better now and I sent off ten or twelve referrals this morning and they went through with no problem.
“There is talk of 30,000 tests coming to the country today so we’ll keep testing and hopefully, start reducing the level of cases.” Dr Mathews explained that, on top of attempting to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak, GPs across Cork and Ireland are still trying to cater for ‘normal’ cases.
“Any of the more trivial normal cases are being advised to stay away - the likes of repeat prescriptions, social welfare certs and other things we can do without seeing a patient,” he said.
“But there are things and cases in which you have to see the patient.
“What we’re trying to do is only bringing in people that are not at risk or symptomatic in the morning,” he explained.
“If it’s clear that a person needs to be seen but they are exhibiting symptoms similar to those of the coronavirus, we’re bringing them in in the afternoon when there are very few people in the building and when it will be closing shortly for the night.
“We are having to don our protective equipment and follow all guidelines.
“It’s a whole new way of medicine,” said Dr Mathews.
“GPs are trying to keep people, especially the vulnerable, away from the surgeries as much as possible.
“We’re the healthcare workers who are among those most likely to catch the illness and pass it on so we could be a danger to them.
“We have to be careful that we’re not putting people in a position to catch it and putting on our protective gear is more about protecting them than protecting us.
Dr Mathews said he has never seen anything like the current coronavirus pandemic.
“This is completely unprecedented.
“It’s like something out of an old science fiction book, that ‘end of the earth’ stuff.
“But of course, it’s not the end of the earth,” he added.
“It’s certainly a major issue and a major adjustment but it will come to an end and we need to make sure we follow the advice until then.
“We don’t want it to be like the situation in Italy where the majority of cases occurred in the first three weeks or so and they were overrun.
“If we can slow down the level of cases and not have them occurring that quickly, we’ll be better placed to tackle it.”