Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

15.47 3 May 2021


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A Donegal GP says locking down the county due to a recent spike in coronavirus cases would be a "pointless exercise".

There has been much focus on Donegal in recent days, with the country having the highest COVID-19 incidence rate in the country.

On Friday, Dr Holohan warned even "the dogs on the street" could see there were examples of people not complying with the guidelines in the county - saying things need to turn around quickly.

Health officials met with local representatives over the weekend to discuss more supports for the county.

However, Dr Martin Coyne - a Lifford-based GP - told Lunchtime Live his clinic has seen low numbers of COVID-19 cases in recent weeks.

He said: “We’re kinda surprised to see these numbers national and to hear the Chief Medical Officer telling all of us in Donegal that the dogs on the street know what’s happening. As one of the dogs on the street, I don’t know what’s happening.

“I’m not aware of us being out partying - maybe I’m just not invited to the parties.

"I’m not aware of big wakes, or people losing the run of themselves. I think the vast majority of people are behaving themselves.”

Lockdown 'would be a pointless exercise'

Dr Coyne said there increased numbers from schools, and it does seem teenagers are "congregating a little bit more than they would have" before.

However, he said there are lots of positive developments - and there's been some "visible relaxation" purely down to the vaccination programme.

His own clinic set to complete second dose vaccination of over-70s this week - something he said is the case right for GPs across the county.

He said Letterkenny University was "slammed in January and February" and was a dangerous place to go, but COVID-19 patient numbers there are now way down to single digits.

One of the main complications with Donegal is how close some areas are to the Northern Ireland border.

Dr Coyne said that's one of the reasons why a localised lockdown would be pointless.

He said: “Any talk of a lockdown in Donegal would just be punitive.

“The fear is we would be left behind. It would be a pointless exercise - the border does not exist when it comes to people coming over and back.

“Keeping Donegal closed down… beyond the country’s unlocking… would be pointless if the North is completely open. Already our patients are travelling across the border to get their hair done.”

He said it's now vital to get vaccines into people's arms as quickly as possible.

He said opening more vaccination centres and giving extra supports to GPs and pharmacies would be more important than opening extra walk-in testing centres in the county.

Main image: File photo of members of An Garda Siochana performing random vehicle checks in the village of Muff, County Donegal. Picture by:Liam McBurney/PA Archive/PA Images

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