GP: Doctors dealing with hundreds of Covid-19 calls a day

GP: Doctors dealing with hundreds of Covid-19 calls a day

A member of the National Covid-19 GP Advisory Committee, Dr Ray Walley, has said GPs are dealing with hundreds of calls every day and the most significant workload is the triage of and dealing with the coronavirus.

Dr Walley said he tells his patients not to focus on the testing, but to focus on staying at home, taking fluids and monitoring their symptoms.

Not all the calls are in relation to the coronavirus, he said and a major part of their job is reassuring people. “We know our patients.”

It was so important to tell people that 80 per cent with coronavirus will cope well at home with the illness.

Testing was important as it would identify those who were positive for the virus and would stop its spread. Identifying health care workers would allow them back to work, which was important, he said.

It was important to ensure that PPE (personal protective equipment) was provided to all staff so they could continue to work.

Infectious disease specialist Prof Sam McConkey has said the measures being considered by the government to combat the spread of Covid-19 show that the basic freedoms people have had for a century are now being questioned.

“We're now about two weeks since the schools and colleges closed, and we're still seeing some increase in cases, so if we really want to control this we probably need to do more interventions,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

Exactly what those would be? I think there are a wide range of things and I suppose rather frighteningly those involve us giving away some of our basic human rights, things like walking the streets, freedom of travel in our own country, restrictions on human movement.

“Similarly, the right to property - a very fundamental constitutional right, we may be looking at taking over some of the private hospitals for use in this response to coronavirus.”

Some “very, very basic” things taken for granted for a century are now being questioned, he said. We now need “very high levels of buy-in” from the public on the measures being proposed.

These decisions are “intrinsically political” and he said a cross-party Oireachtas committee should be set-up to consider the measures.

“Time is of the essence - we probably only have a few days. But I do think we should be asking our 160 TDs to get into small groups of nine or ten, each one of them have an effective chair to keep things moving, switch off the microphone if people are going on a party-political rant.

“Once that group have agreed a proposal, then everyone moves behind it and supports it.”

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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