'Covid is very much out there': Increase in Covid-19 referrals, say Cork GPs

'Covid is very much out there': Increase in Covid-19 referrals, say Cork GPs

Dr Nuala O’Connor has noticed “a big increase” in referrals for Covid-19 testing at the Elmwood Medical Practice, in Frankfield, Cork City, over the last two weeks.

A number of Cork GPs have noticed an increase in the number of people being referred for Covid-19 testing.

Dr Nuala O’Connor, of Elmwood Medical Practice, in Frankfield, who is also the Covid-19 lead for the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), said that she has noticed “a big increase in Elmwood over the last two weeks”.

“Fortunately, we have only had two positive, but they were our first positives in six weeks,” Dr O’Connor said.

“Covid is very much out there and if we let our guard down and mix with others, especially indoors, then the numbers will continue to rise and limit the Government’s ability to ease restrictions,” she said.

Dr John Sheehan, of Blackpool Bridge Surgery, said that there has been a slight increase in Covid-19 referrals, after what had been a very quiet month. 

“We had, thankfully, got very quiet in terms of Covid for the last month and we hadn’t seen any positive cases, which was great, but in the last two weeks, we have seen a slow increase in numbers referred,” Dr Sheehan said.

Some of those referrals involve the schools reopening and those who are a close contact with a case of Covid-19.

“We have certainly gone from a situation where we really weren’t referring anyone for a few weeks, which was great, to three or four a day now,” Dr Sheehan said.

“Thankfully, there have been no positive cases in the last two weeks that I know of, but certainly more referrals,” he said.

The ‘GP Buddy’ tracker, a tracker system for GP clinics, has also indicated that the number of people reporting Covid-19 symptoms to their GP doubled in recent weeks. This Monday, the number of people with symptoms referred for testing by their GP was down slightly on the previous Monday, from 2.09 to 1.85 cases.

The number of cases being referred per GP had declined to 1.52 on Wednesday last, before increasing to 1.85 on Monday, March 29.

March 22 saw the number of testing referrals per GP double on the previous three Mondays, from 0.86, 0.98, and 1.15 to 2.09.

Dr Sheehan said that people believe their individual behaviour “doesn’t make much of a difference”, but that combined, it does.

“The risk at an individual level could be low, but that all adds up to quite significant numbers and, unfortunately, as we’ve seen in the last few weeks, the numbers are stubbornly remaining at the 500 to 600 level and not coming down,” he said. “We have to keep at it and as more people get the vaccine, it will help and, eventually, we’ll beat this.”

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