GPs report rise in Covid-related calls and test referrals

Monaghan GP expects 'very rapid rise' in Covid-19 cases within week

GPs across the country have reported an increase in calls relating to Covid-19 and referrals for tests over recent days.

Dublin GP Dr Ray Walley said there was a 50 per cent increase in calls to the out-of-hours service D Doc on Christmas Day and a 100 per cent increase on St Stephen's Day compared with last year.

“Seventy per cent of those calls were Covid-related, which explains obviously why the numbers have greatly increased... D Doc covers virtually all of Dublin,” he said.

Hospital Report

Dr Walley said he had received a “number of positive notifications” from the HSE on Monday.


“We need to be careful with not-detected notifications – this does not mean you don’t have Covid if you are symptomatic, which can be a mistake people can make,” he added.

Monaghan GP Dr Illona Duffy said Monday had been "exceptionally busy" with Covid-19 presentations across all age groups.

“Over the last few days we’ve referred hundreds for testing. There was well over 20 referrals today and that was just in a six-hour shift,” she said.

“We’ve had lots of people who are close contacts and others who are symptomatic with no history of a close contact.”

Dr Duffy said she expected “a very rapid rise” in the reported number of Covid-19 cases in the next five to seven days.

“We knew this was going to happen, the rates were too high prior to Christmas so we knew there was too much Covid circulating in the lead-up to Christmas,” she said.

“Obviously now, with Christmas here, people are meeting, that’s natural and we couldn’t stop that. We knew the aftermath would be bad – a rise in presentations and, therefore, a rise in Covid numbers.”

Kerry GP Dr Gary Stack said Monday had been "quite busy" with 40-50 per cent of calls related to Covid-19 and mostly younger people were presenting with symptoms.

Paul Reid, chief executive of the HSE, said on Sunday that testing and tracing volumes were "now at alarming levels". He said 23,000 tests had been completed in one day, the highest daily total with community positivity reaching 10 per cent.

‘Large increase’

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has also said it expects to see “a large increase” in cases reported over the coming days.

Of the 765 cases reported on Monday, 291 were in Dublin, 63 in Cork, 59 in Monaghan, 49 in Louth, 43 in Meath with the remaining 260 cases spread across all other counties.

Some 70 per cent of those cases were aged under 45 years while the median age was 33 years.

Ireland's 14-day incidence rate is now 220.1 per 100,000 population. Donegal has the highest incidence rate (425.3), followed by Monaghan (384.5) and Louth (342.2). Dublin's 14-day incidence rate is 265 per 100,000 population.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan said the "steep rise" in positivity rates in community testing indicated "the virus is increasing its foothold out in our communities".

“This is just one more reason why we are strongly advising everyone to stay safely at home to avoid transmitting or catching this virus, as it continues to circulate widely,” he said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times