No single reason for high number of Covid-19 cases in Waterford, says doctor

GP in Kerry questions if ending of restrictions premature

Dr Eamonn Shanahan, GP at the Farranfore Medical Centre: says he cannot isolate any particular reason for the spike in Kerry cases.

Dr Eamonn Shanahan, GP at the Farranfore Medical Centre: says he cannot isolate any particular reason for the spike in Kerry cases.

 

Waterford city GP Niall McNamara said there did not appear to be any one single reason why the county has the highest incidence of Covid-19 in the country at preset.

Dr McNamara said there has been a significant increase in the number of patients presenting with Covid-like symptoms in the past week. A rise in cases among primary schoolchildren had led some to link the trend to communication, but this was “anecdotal”, he stressed.

With 747 cases per 100,000 people in the past two weeks, Waterford has the highest county incidence, ahead of Longford and Carlow. For much of the pandemic, the county has amongst the lowest incidence in the State.

“It’s Waterford today, but it could be any other county tomorrow, given the transmissibility of the virus. We’re all going to see outbreaks occurring from time to time, along with spikes in case numbers.”

Despite the increase in cases, Dr McNamara said that, thanks to vaccination, the vast majority of infection were mild and it was only in “rare circumstances” that serious illness resulted.

He said he did not believe there was a need to “raise the alarm” though people needed to be careful about wearing masks, respiratory etiquette and about self-isolating from the moment they showed symptoms.

In some cases, people with mild virus symptoms were waiting for the results of a test before isolating themselves, he said.

The risk now attaching to Covid-19 is dramatically less than it was nine months ago, before mass vaccination, and appears to approximate to that of flu in winter.

A spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in Kerry, meanwhile, has prompted a GP there to ask if the ending of all restrictions on October 22nd is premature.

Kerry is currently experiencing some of the highest positivity rates in the country, with 455 cases confirmed in the past seven days and the 14-day incidence rate almost doubling in three weeks.

Three weeks ago, the county had a 14-day incidence rate of just under 300; it is now almost 580.

The positivity rate in Kerry is now at 15 per cent, five points ahead of the national average.

Dr Eamonn Shanahan, GP at the Farranfore Medical Centre, said he cannot isolate any particular reason for the spike, but a mixture of younger and older people are presenting and household settings accounts for most of the incidents he sees.

Social distancing was not being obeyed in shops and his patients were complaining, he said.

The GP, whose practice serves a wide hinterland between Tralee and Killarney, expressed concerns about the ending of most restrictions nationally, in under two weeks.

“I hope the great reopening is not premature,” Dr Shanahan said.

He said that he personally will continue to take precautions and will not go where there are large crowds of people, irrespective of whether it is indoors or outdoors.

He will continue with precautions for at least six months and his advice to patients is to continue to “be careful”.

Meanwhile, anecdotally the blame for the surge in case numbers is being pointed at events such as the Listowel Races. Throughout Kerry, communions as well as confirmations have also been taking place in recent weeks.