Cork GP: Doctors feel ‘very unprepared’ to deal with coronavirus outbreak

Cork GP: Doctors feel ‘very unprepared’ to deal with coronavirus outbreak
A man wearing a protective face mask covered himself with a plastic cover before enters a supermarket in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province, Monday, Feb. 10, 2020. China reported a rise in new virus cases on Monday, possibly denting optimism that its disease control measures like isolating major cities might be working, while Japan reported dozens of new cases aboard a quarantined cruise ship. (Chinatopix via AP)

DOCTORS in Ireland feel “very unprepared” to deal with a potential coronavirus outbreak, according to a Cork GP.

Bantry GP Dr Paul O’Sullivan was speaking to The Echo after the coronavirus, which has killed hundreds and affected thousands, was labelled a “serious and imminent threat” in the UK.

The UK government now has additional powers to fight the virus’ spread after cases in China rose and a fourth case was confirmed in England.

Dr O’Sullivan warned that doctors in Ireland feel unprepared to deal with such an outbreak, and that it is only a matter of time before Ireland confirms its first coronavirus case.

“We feel very unprepared,” he said. “We have had some guidance via email but no equipment such as facemasks or protective suits etc. have been provided.

“There is a feeling that GPs are on our own and a feeling that the HSE won’t get its act together until we get an actual case. It’s only a matter of time.

“We have already had a few scares with at least one in Cork University Hospital (CUH).”

The Echo revealed last week that a male patient at CUH was recently placed in an isolation unit amid concerns he could have coronavirus.

Sources told The Echo that an Irish man, aged in his early-to-mid 20s, who recently returned from China, presented at the hospital with symptoms similar to those of the virus.

It is understood he presented at Cork University Hospital and was assessed at the Medical Assessment Unit.

This assessment raised fears that he could have coronavirus and he was placed in isolation. Tests were conducted and the results came back negative on Thursday evening.

It was revealed on Sunday that a fourth confirmed case of the coronavirus was found in England.

Chief Medical Officer in the UK, Professor Chris Whitty, said:

“A further patient has tested positive for novel coronavirus in England, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to four.

“The new case is a known contact of a previously confirmed UK case, and the virus was passed on in France.

“This patient followed NHS advice by self-isolating rather than going to A&E,” he added.

The HSE said that it has measures in place to respond and is well prepared in the event of a case in Ireland.

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