The Irish College of General Practitioners is warning that the fight against coronavirus is all about personal responsibility – regardless of the level of restrictions in place.
It comes as Donegal joins Dublin at Level Three restrictions – with garda checkpoints in place across the county.
The acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn has said there is “nothing inevitable” about the prospect of extra restrictions in other areas and said people can turn the tide on the virus by working together.
On Newstalk Breakfast with Sean Defoe this morning, ICGP Infection Control Lead Dr Nuala O’Connor said beating back the virus is all about personal responsibility.
“What we need to do is we need to empower everybody to really understand that it is the personal actions of each and every one of our citizens [that can have an effect],” she said.
“Whether or not there are particular restrictions in place, how each and every person chooses to act and choose to spend their time is what is going to get us back in control of this virus.
“Remember that is what we actually did back in March and April. This virus loves when people get together because it can spread easily.
“So, the key to stopping it, irrespective of whatever restrictions are there, is by keeping our distance from people.”
She said the virus is now mainly spreading in the home.
“At the end of the day, we know at the moment that a lot of the places this virus is spreading is actually through gatherings in private homes,” she said.
“Student gatherings, people having communions, christenings and family gatherings – and the police do not have jurisdiction in this country to go into those homes and police those homes so this is really about solidarity and about each and every citizen taking personal responsibility for what they do and what goes on in their own personal spaces and with their friends and family.”
Dr O’Connor said it is essential that anyone experiencing symptoms stays at home until they are resolved.
“What people sometimes don’t understand its that it actually can be quite mild symptoms,” she said. “So, if you are feeling any way unwell. If you have any little bit of fever or if you feel like you are coming down with something, you need to stop and take action.
“Even just pause for about 48 hours, go on to the HSE website and check do I meet those criteria for testing – which is the fever above 38, the nuance in cough, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell.
“But something could be developing so if you are feeling any way unwell, pause, stay out for 48 hours and wait and see what is happening.”
She said anyone who is a close contact of a confirmed case must restrict their movements for 14-days regardless of whether they get a test.
“You could be perfectly well but the virus could be starting to grow inside you and you don’t know that so, to stop the virus spreading, you must take yourself out of circulation and stay at home,” she said.
“That goes on for 14 days, whether or not you get a test and it is negative.”
She said there is no point in contacting your doctor looking for a test – as GPs can’t organise one for a close contact.
“Everybody is under pressure at the moment,” she said. “The cases are up, the GPS are under pressure, the public health doctors are under pressure.
“You need to stay at home and wait for people to contact you. The result of the test is not going to allow you to get back out faster if you are a close contact.
“That is very important so we need people to be patient and wait for those tests to come. Wait for public health to ring you and talk you through what it is for yourself.”
You can find the full HSE advice on what to do if you are a close contact here.