As the number of COVID-19 cases in Ireland rises, a Cork pharmacist has urged his patients to fill their regular prescriptions early amid concerns that potential community transmission of the coronavirus could impact pharmacy operations.
Conor Phelan of Phelan’s Pharmacy said he believes it is only a matter of time before the country begins to see community transmission of the virus, and says he believes that if people could get their supplies of medicines early, then they should.
While community transmission has not yet been established in Ireland, Mr Phelan stressed “we do not know how we will be impacted” and said it was prudent for patients to talk to their pharmacist about the possibility of getting their prescriptions early this month, where possible. This would not be possible for all medicines however.
“There is less personal risk for people to come in now and fill their prescriptions, than if there was community transmission,” he said. The pharmacist also voiced concern that there is also a significant risk that staff could become sick during the outbreak, and said if this was the case, other staff may have to go into isolation. If this happened, he said, it would have a significant impact on the delivery of services and could lead to reduced pharmacy operating hours.
To address this risk, Mr Phelan has introduced a number of measures at his pharmacies to reduce the risk to staff and patients including putting hand sanitisers at doors and asking patients to keep their distance from staff. “At certain outlets we are telling people if they have a fever not to come in, to call us and we will come out to their car,” he said.
Mr Phelan stressed that people should continue to follow the advice of the HSE, and relevant authorities, and said the message is getting through to people to wash their hands regularly. “I wouldn’t say people are panicked, but they are preparing, and I think that is a rational response,” he said.