A Cork GP has warned of the increase in community referral for Covid-19 testing following the festive season.
Dr Nuala O’Connor said that nationally, there has been a 65% increase in GP referrals for a Covid-19 test between last weekend and this week.
Speaking to The Echo, she said there has been a “massive increase in referrals” since the beginning of December.
In the week of December 5, there were 25,181 GP referrals recorded and the previous week saw similar figures.
An increase in GP referrals was recorded in the week of December 12, with 27,423 referrals made and in the week ending December 19, there 42,081 GP referrals made.
In the fourth week of December, up to and including St Stephen’s Day, there were almost 70,000 GP referrals with a total of 69,536 referrals recorded.
Dr O’Connor said that SouthDoc would “normally be quite busy” on St Stephen's Day but this year saw an increased number of calls related solely to Covid-19.
Dr O’Connor said that the number of close contacts that people have has gone up after socialising in the run up to and over the Christmas period with intergenerational socialisation leading to the spread of the virus.
“The amount of close contacts that people have is gone up, the average is 5.9 but some people have 15 contacts because two or three families got together on Christmas Day, which was within the guidelines, but if one person has it, and after spending time with others, with masks off, chatting, eating and playing board games, it can spread.
“Unfortunately, what we’re going to see over the next seven days is more of the effects of the socialisation pre-Christmas with the positive cases and then that spreading intergenerationally over the Christmas period,” she said.
Yesterday, more than 1,500 new cases of Covid-19 were reported, with more than 200 of those in Cork.
The Cabinet is due to meet today to consider further restrictions, with both Government and NPHET "very concerned" about the rapid growth in cases and rising number of hospitalisations.
Speaking on RTÉ's News At One on Tuesday, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said Cabinet will look "right across the spectrum" and at the advice from the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET), which is seeking a "full Level 5" lockdown.
Dr O’Connor warned people to rethink their New Year’s Eve plans and said that “everyone’s behaviour over the next few days and over the New Year is really critical”.