SEVERAL Cork hospitals have today appealed to the public to first attend their GP if they are experiencing signs or symptoms of the flu.
Mallow General Hospital, Cork University Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital have put strict visiting restrictions in place and have stated:
"Hospital management is appealing to both adults and children who are experiencing any signs or symptoms of influenza to contact their local health provider (GP/ Southdoc) in the first instance prior to attending the hospital."
All three hospitals are currently extremely busy and, in the interest of patient safety, are asking the public to first visit their GP before arriving at a hospital.
Cork University Hospital has the second-highest number of patients on trolleys this morning, according to the latest Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) figures.
This comes after yesterday's meeting between the INMO, the South / South West Hospital Group (SSWHG) and senior HSE executives.
It a statement issued by CUH and the MUH they said:
"The meeting was adjourned until Wednesday, January 8 to allow consideration of the issues raised by the INMO.
"Additional measures agreed with the South/South West Hospital Group are in place in order to improve bed capacity.
"Such measures include the cancellation of elective surgery, stopping non-emergency admissions and sourcing extra bed capacity from the public and private sectors."
The public is also asked to consider getting the flu vaccine if they have not done so already:
"It is not too late to get the flu vaccine and it is provided free of charge for people in at-risk groups, which includes everyone aged 65 years and over, pregnant women, anyone over six months of age with a long term illness requiring regular medical follow-up such as chronic lung disease, chronic heart disease, diabetes, cancer or those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment."