Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

16.11 29 Jul 2020


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A GP says any letter from a doctor saying a child is COVID-19 free, without the child having had a test, 'doesn't really mean anything'.

Galway-based Dr Brian Higgins says a letter on its own without a test isn't a guarantee a child is coronavirus free, and that children shouldn't be put through tests unless they're symptomatic.

It follows reports doctors across the country are being "inundated" with requests from parents for such a letter, in order for children to attend a creche.

The Irish Independent reports that the HSE has written to doctors advising that "definitive GP certification of non-infectivity is not possible".

Dr Higgins told Lunchtime Live that his practice has received requests for letters, but that they're not doing them.

Doctor's letter saying child is 'COVID free' without test is meaningless, GP says

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He explained: "What does the letter actually mean, I think is the question. Me saying that somebody doesn't have coronavirus doesn't actually mean anything.

"I know from what the parents tell me: they'll say 'the child is totally asymptomatic, nobody has been unwell around them, and we've been socially distancing carefully'. I'm making my decision on what I've been told.

"Also, I can only make a decision based exactly right now in this instant... having a letter from me saying that a child is OK in this exact second doesn't really mean anything."

Dr Higgins said it would be "totally unfair" to put children through a COVID-19 test if they don't have symptoms.

He said: "What we'd be doing is simply paperwork for the creche for no real reason and no benefit to anyone.

"Our patients are brilliant... they're all really understanding that we'll do anything for them whenever we can. If we say we can't do something or we won't do something... there's a good reason why."

He said currently symptoms of respiratory infection are currently being treated as COVID "until proven otherwise".

He explained: "It may not be COVID... but the only way we're going to stop the spread is being extremely cautious.

"If somebody has a high temperature, loss of smell or taste, cough, fever, even a little bit of shortness of breath... we're telling them to self-isolate. All their household contacts should limit their movements, then we'll organise testing."

He added that the coronavirus test process is currently taking around two days in general.

Main image: File photo. Picture by: Anthony Devlin/PA Archive/PA Images

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