General practitioners (GPs) have urged anyone with mild symptoms of Covid-19 to self-isolate in order to protect vulnerable people in family homes.
The Irish College of General Practitioners, the professional body for general practice, described mild symptoms as cough, fever, sore throat, aches and pains, or shortness of breath.
The advice comes as community transmission of Covid-19 now represents 67 per cent of new cases in Ireland. GPs said vulnerable people in family homes are particularly at risk.
ICGP lead adviser on Covid-19 Dr Nuala O’Connor said people need to self isolate for 14 days once developing symptoms.
“People may have only mild symptoms, so they don’t realise how dangerous this could be for vulnerable people in their family home such as the elderly, those with chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease, or those with underlying conditions,” she said.
“They must self-isolate for 14 days. That means they can’t go out, and they must not share utensils or towels with family members and must stay two metres away.
“I know this can be difficult in a family environment but this is the only way we can avoid spreading the virus further.”
ICGP president Dr Mary Favier said: "We can't afford to become complacent at this stage in the pandemic.
“While 80 percent of people get a mild illness, we know that the virus can be deadly for some, including young people. We urge people to stay at home and limit the spread of the virus as much as possible.”
Dr Favier said general practice is open for all illnesses, and urged people worried about any aspect of their health to pick up the phone to their GP.
“We are very concerned that a lot of illness, including early stage cancers, could be missed because people are afraid to go to their GP,” she said.
“We have set up systems to enable consultations for patients without being put at risk of getting Covid-19. So please do remember: GP is open.”
Separately, the ICGP said revised criteria for testing for Covid-19 has created “considerable additional strain for GPs and their staff”.
The new testing standards, which were announced on Tuesday, March 24th and came into effect early the following morning, dramatically reduced the eligibility for Covid-19 testing.
Whereas before, those displaying one symptom were to be put forward for testing, under the new regime patients must be suffering from two symptoms, have a respiratory disease and be a contact of a confirmed or suspected case, and also be in a priority group to be eligible for testing.