Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.12 8 Sep 2020


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GPs are reporting a "surge" in numbers of children being referred for possible COVID-19 since schools re-opened.

Each GP is seeing between five and 10 patients with respiratory issues in the last few days, according to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

Dr Denis McCauley is chairman of the GP committee of the IMO.

He said the increase in assessments for children was being experienced across the country.

"I think each GP is seeing between five and 10 children with respiratory illnesses in the last few days.

"This would be expected for two reasons: one is that schools have now re-opened, and secondly there is health information encouraging patients to present earlier with respiratory infections than they would normally do.

"Normally in an average year, the general information would be if your child has a viral illness to wait a few days before contacting the GP - whereas now it is the opposite.

"We're trying to get these people assessed and give them health information at a much earlier stage - so the surge would be expected".

"I think the crèches opened with very little increase in respiratory illnesses, and I suppose there was potentially the hope that the same would happen for primary and secondary schools.

"It has been a coincidence: the schools opening wit the arrival of one or two virus' - it was a surprise but as one would expect, this is what normally happens every September.

"But we are treating it differently so therefore the workload has increased".

"I think the Irish Medical Organisation, in discussion with the Government, had anticipated this and there is a resource plan at the present minute.

"Naturally, we shall await developments and we will continue our interaction with the Government to see if there's any further help and resources which may be needed.

"Hopefully it will settle down as it normally does, but as I say there is more workload associated with the same amount of work essentially".

"I would ask parents not to be alarmed, but just to follow the health messaging.

"One of the reasons that we're asking parents to contact their GP earlier this year is so that we can give good information about what they should do to help to prevent the spread of any illness that they're presenting with.

"It may be a simple cold, it may actually be mimicking COVID or it may actually be COVID.

"The GP has to define which of those three it is, and to give the appropriate health advice about that".

"I think it is good social medicine that if the children get symptoms that they contact their GP - I would ask them to do it cause it's a good idea, and try not to get too worried about it".

Main image by Semevent from Pixabay 

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