AS CLARE’S Covid-19 infection rate continues to rise, a busy family doctor has warned that many people, who should be self-isolating, in line with public health advice, are failing to do so and putting others at risk.
Dr Yvonne Williams from Shannon said she was concerned that people who should be restricting their movements, while they have potential symptoms, are not listening to the advice of their GPs or the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).
‘What I am finding is that people are still going out and about with coughs and other possible symptoms,” she said. “The truth is that you can’t say that something is just a sinus infection, or just a chest infection or a just a sore throat until you have a negative Covid-19 test. If you are unwell in any way, we have to treat that as Covid until it is proven otherwise.”
Dr Williams also expressed concerns over turnaround times for tests which she said were “still a little slower than we would like”. In terms of contact tracing, she said a slow-down could be due to the number of contacts that positive cases now have. “During the lockdown, people were having very few contacts outside their own homes,” she noted. “That has all changed and there is obviously a knock-on impact as contact tracers have a hugely increased workload. What I have seen would be cases where people in this area would have confirmed cases among relatives in Border counties and still haven’t been contacted.”
Like all GPs, Dr Williams has seen her work load spiral in recently. Last Monday, she had 21 Covid-related calls up to lunchtime. “Typically, a GP would expect to have 25 regular consultations on any given day,” she said. “We have to prioritise Covid issues and we’re now running vaccination clinics. We’ve had to pause things like routine blood tests for three to four weeks. There has been a huge increase in our workload.”