Covid-19: Donegal GP warns against country reopening too soon

Case numbers in north Donegal mirroring those in Derry, Dr McCauley says

A Donegal GP has warned against Ireland reopening too soon after a sharp rise in cases in his county, which he believes are linked to the Delta variant.

Dr Denis McCauley, chairman of the GP Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation, said that it is very difficult to stop the Delta variant from spreading because it is so transmissible.

Buncrana’s 14-day incidence rate is 880 cases per 100,000 population, the highest in the State.

“The area of north Donegal, that’s Buncrana and Carndonagh, is intimately related with Derry. It’s the same economic and social area. There is no border there, there’s never been a border, and there’s definitely not a border for the virus,” said Dr McCauley.


Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Saturday with Katie Hannon, he said the case numbers in north Donegal are mirroring those in Derry. “We can’t really stop this. People from Derry are mixing with people from Inishowen. People just travel all of the time around that area.

“In Northern Ireland... there is a significant increase in cases, and a transference to a certain degree into hospital admissions.

“But at the same time there is a paradox, they are talking about opening up and lessening these social restrictions.”

Dr McCauley added that this was in part due to vaccinations leading to less obvious illness. “Unfortunately, 10 per cent of those people will get long Covid, people are going into hospital quite sick.”

He said there was something “strange” going on in the North, and he hoped that the Irish Government would make good political decisions to lessen the spread of Covid here.

With regards to indoor dining reopening in the Republic, he said the Delta variant will lead to an increase in cases no matter what.

“We have to decide what level of opening, what level of numbers is politically acceptable?”

He said any plan for reopening indoor dining has to be practical. “It’s no good having a system that looks good but doesn’t work.”

Dr McCauley said with unfettered access to indoor dining, Northern Ireland has seen a six-fold increase in case numbers.

This means Ireland could see an extra 2,000-3,000 cases per day if there was no restrictions on indoor dining.

Only allowing vaccinated people and those who have recovered from Covid to eat indoors may lead to less cases. “Hospitality will either add a bit of fuel or a lot of fuel, depending on what decisions are made,” he said.

He added that Letterkenny hospital already has 10 people in hospital with the Delta variant.