Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.57 18 Oct 2020


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A GP says it is "hard to see" how Ireland will not be put into level five of coronavirus restrictions.

Dr Ray Walley was speaking as the Government considered advice from NPHET to place the country into the most severe restrictions for six weeks.

However it will be Monday evening at the earliest before we know whether a second lockdown will be approved.

Lengthy meetings broke up on Saturday without any agreement on whether or not to implement NPHET's advice.

Dr Walley is the first vice-president of the Standing Committee of European Doctors.

He told Newstalk Breakfast with Susan Keogh: "I can understand Government want to take a bit of time to consider what the advice is.

"The advice has great implications both for people's health and economics.

"It's hard to see how we won't go to that level, because we've had an exponential growth in cases and you can see it.

"So for example, over the last seven days, there's a 20% increase in symptomatic referral - all these trends are increasing all the time".

He said the workload for GPs has gone up, but they are organising around it.

"The workload is considerable - we're better placed than we were back when this started in March, and the fact that we have have organised our structures to deal with it.

"General Practice is obviously doing the day work, we're doing the out-of-hours work and we operate a number of GP COVID hubs around the country as well.

"And it's a matter of organising around that".

'We don't want to come late to this'

He said this involves prioritising certain things such as the flu vaccination and reviewing the elderly.

"We are open for business, and we are making sure that we triage people to ensure that people are not coming down with COVID symptoms.

"That being said, occasionally mistakes are made by both the patient and staff - but we're, I hope, getting it right in the majority of circumstances.

"We're coping, but it is tough".

Asked if restrictions have worked, he said: "The levels in Dublin are 200 per 100,000, that is considerable relative to wherever you are in the world.

"We are ranked at about 13th out of 31 in Europe, but those other countries are now providing levels of lockdown.

"What we don't want to do is come to this late.

"When you've had COVID in your community - as we do now - you end up having, potentially, your public health contact tracing swamped which is starting to happen now.

"You have potentially your hospitals swamped, we don't want that to happen - you have potentially your Intensive Care Units swamped, we don't want that to happen.

"We want to be able to provide elective out-patients in hospital, elective surgery in hospital.

"The danger is when things get swamped if you don't have an ICU bed, for example, for a road traffic accident: at the end of the day, you can't throw somebody out who's in the bed already to take somebody else in who's in a road traffic accident.

"We've got to provide surplus capacity within our system and the same is in General Practice.

"And the problem is unless you have a fire dike-type operation to stop the spread, as we do need now, we will have that potentially overwhelmed".

It comes as a record 1,276 new cases of COVID-19 were reported here on Saturday.

Some 278 cases were in Dublin, 149 in Cork, 108 in Meath, 107 Galway and 80 in Wexford.

The remaining 554 cases were spread across 21 counties.

Main image: Scenes from the Creative Quarter area of Dublin city on October 16th. Picture by: Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie

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Coronavirus Dr Ray Walley Level Five COVID Restrictions Level Five Restrictions NPHET Newstalk Breakfast Standing Committee Of European Doctors

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