COVID-19 testing criteria widened; Cork GP urges people to contact their doctor if unwell

COVID-19 testing criteria widened; Cork GP urges people to contact their doctor if unwell
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

A Cork GP has urged people to contact their doctor for advice if they feel unwell, saying that confirming a diagnosis of a COVID-19 by testing does not affect the advice to patients on how to recover.

The comments from Dr Mary Favier, President of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) come as it is announced that testing criteria for COVID-19 has now been widened.

From today, a patient only needs to have one of three key symptoms to be tested for COVID-19 – a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.

Priority for testing will continue to be given to healthcare staff, vulnerable people and close contacts of confirmed cases.

In a statement, Dr Mary Favier said the Irish College of General Practitioners welcomes the widening of the test criteria, but she cautioned that even though it is a “modest widening”, the HSE “must ensure the capacity is there within the system to accommodate and manage the ramping up in the number of tests performed each week.” 

“If the capacity is not there then unacceptable waiting times for testing and return of test results builds up and we end up not being able to deliver the amount of testing that is required,” she said.

The Cork based GP said contact tracing also needs to be timely and appropriately organised in order to deal with the anticipated rise in new cases revealed by increased testing.

Dr Favier stressed that patients should contact their GP for advice if they are feeling unwell.

“Confirming a diagnosis of a COVID-19 by testing does not affect the advice to patients on how to recover. Your GP is the best person to advise you if you are concerned that you have symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Please do contact your GP by phone if you are concerned. The GP can decide if you meet the criteria for testing. Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 needs to self-isolate for 14 days and their household contacts need to restrict their movements,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dr Favier has also urged people to continue to practice social distancing as the Bank Holiday looms.

“Your personal actions can save a life. Please adhere to the government advised restrictions on movement this coming bank holiday weekend.“

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