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Cahercalla Board chairman, Dr Michael Harty.

Dr Harty believes Covid-19 is like a “pneumonic plague”


Dr Michael Harty believes Covid-19 should be categorised as a “pneumonic plague” because it is a deadly virus that people have no immunity against, attacks lungs and other vital organs and in some cases leads to deaths.

The former Clare Independent Deputy has compared to current pandemic to the Spanish Flu of 1918 as it has such a destructive impact on peoples’ health.

“People of all ages have died from Covid-19. There is no age group that is immune from it,” he said.

His comparison comes after official confirmation the number of Covid-19 cases in Clare increased from 60 to 65 from Monday to Wednesday this week.

The Kilmihil-based GP expressed concern about the dramatic increase in mortality from the virus from the mid twenties to 36 on Tuesday.

He believes that Ireland is about twelve days behind Italy and in twelve days’ time the country could reach the peak experienced by the Italians a week ago.

Having analysed the figures in Italy, he predicts the death rate in Ireland could peak on April 18 or 19.

With the number of patients in intensive care now reaching 186, he warned as this figures increases more patients will die in ICU.

He stressed the importance of physical distancing is to ensure intensive care facilities and health services in Ireland don’t become overwhelmed like Italy and Spain.

“We are beginning to see a surge in Covid-19 cases after a plateau over the last few days. We are trying to prevent a surge in deaths.

Commenting on the cluster of Covid-19 cases in nursing homes, he said nursing homes are very vulnerable to this virus as they accommodate a lot of vulnerable elderly people.

He said nursing homes are not geared up to cope with this infection as they are usually places that welcome relatives to visit and mix with patients relatively freely.

However, he pointed out several nursing homes took the initiative to restrict visiting even before they were asked to do so by the Department of Public Health.

He said nursing homes were very cognisant that they were open to bringing in people who could spread the infection.

Given that some of the large corporate nursing homes share staff, he said this caused a difficulty for some of these residential care facilities.

“Most nursing homes realise how vulnerable they are and have instituted very robust infection control measures to keep it out.

“Some nursing homes can have more than 100 patients,” he said.

Dan Danaher

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