HSE buys 1.7 million masks for staff and GP offices; Irish teen tested for Coronavirus

HSE buys 1.7 million masks for staff and GP offices; Irish teen tested for Coronavirus

Latest: The HSE has bought 1.7 million masks in preparation for the spread of Covid-19.

It has also distributed additional protective equipment for staff to hospitals and GP offices.

HSE CEO Paul Reid said it has already secured a further supply for the future.

Mr Reid said: "[The aim] was to give us an extra supply above and beyond because we are very conscious the market would become volatile so we have secured a significant number of incremental supports to sustain us in a very volatile market.

"However, we have locked down a supply with our suppliers for the future."

Earlier: GPs inundated with coronavirus calls; Irish teen tested for virus

Calls have been made for a dedicated phone line for people to contact if they have concerns regarding the coronavirus, amid claims that GPs are being inundated with calls and queries.

A leading Irish GP has warned that general practice does not have the capacity to deal with the level of demand that has occurred in light of the coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak, a virus which has killed thousands across the globe and affected many more.

Dr Maitiu Ó Tuathail, former president of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), was speaking after Health Minister Simon Harris instructed anyone with concerns regarding Covid-19 to contact their GP.

“If your child has been in an infected region, or indeed you have, and you’re showing symptoms, please self-isolate, please contact your GP by phone and go to the HSE website which also contains information,” Mr Harris advised.

Your GP knows the pathway to go which could include testing but that’s a matter for a GP to do a risk assessment.

His instructions came after several schools across Ireland revealed concerns regarding possible infection after returning from tours to infected regions such as Italy.

It comes as a Westmeath teenager has been tested for COVID-19 after arriving home from Italy.

The Castlepollard Community College student had been on a school ski trip to the north of the country.

The individual was tested last night after displaying some symptoms of the infection.

Speaking to Midlands 103, Deputy Principal James McGrath outlined the information the HSE sought from the school.

"They would have sought information on the route that the student's would have taken from the resort back to the airport in Milan," Mr McGrath said.

"I can confirm that last night one student has undergone a test. The student in question I believe didn't show all of the symptoms but some."

Dr Ó Tuathail, meanwhile, called for a different approach after highlighting the severe pressure general practitioners across Ireland currently find themselves under.

"Currently, GP practices are inundated with calls from concerned patients with regards to the coronavirus,” he explained.

“Patients have difficulty getting through to GP surgeries at the best of times and the capacity simply doesn't exist in general practice to adequately deal with the huge demand that this will create.

"In other EU countries, and in the UK, they have one dedicated number that everyone who is concerned can call for advice and further information,” he added.

“This is to ensure that general practice doesn't become inundated.

We need to adopt a similar approach here, otherwise general practice and emergency departments will become overwhelmed.

"Currently, the approach taken has been inconsistent, with some schools where children have been back from affected areas advising children to self quarantine for two weeks, and other schools in the same jurisdiction advising children to attend as normal.

“This inconsistency is not helping the confusion that currently exists."

Elsewhere, a travel insurance provider is reporting a massive spike in travel and wedding insurance sales because of the coronavirus outbreak in Europe.

Blue Insurance has found that the number of people taking out travel insurance, has increased by 425% compared to last year.

The number of wedding insurance policies have also increased by 4,500% in recent days because of the continued spread of the virus is making couples nervous about their wedding plans abroad.

And there has been a 1,400% increase in existing and new policyholders adding travel disruption cover to their travel insurance policy.

Managing director of Blue Insurance, Ciaran Mulligan, said they are not surprised by the spike in travel and wedding insurance sales.

“We have seen the highest number of travel insurance sales since we opened our doors in 2003,” he said.

Travel disruption is an additional cover but it must be purchased in advance of any public announcement prohibiting travel to the particular area. There is also a seven day moratorium period on the additional cover from the date it is added to a policy.

“If within 14 days of departure the Department of Foreign Affairs advises all but essential travel to a certain area then the limit on that policy will cover you under government travel advice for cancellation,” said Mr Mulligan.

“If you add travel disruption cover to your policy and at the time of travel the department advises against travel to that region you will be covered for up to €1,000 per person in the event you need to cancel or move your flights or move your accommodation.”

For a policy for as little as €49 up to €129, people are risking losing between €25,000 and €100,000 on the cost of their wedding.

Additional reporting Joel Slattery and Evelyn Ring

More on this topic

Dominic Raab to lead daily Covid-19 meeting in Boris' absence as British PM ‘very likely’ to need ventilatorDominic Raab to lead daily Covid-19 meeting in Boris' absence as British PM ‘very likely’ to need ventilator

'He’s in our prayers tonight': Simon Coveney offers well wishes to Boris Johnson 'He’s in our prayers tonight': Simon Coveney offers well wishes to Boris Johnson

Covid-19: Majority of coronavirus deaths are male, figures showCovid-19: Majority of coronavirus deaths are male, figures show

British doctors without PPE report being ‘bullied and shamed’ into treating patientsBritish doctors without PPE report being ‘bullied and shamed’ into treating patients