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Infections of over-65s double as elderly seek Covid tests


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Dr Ronan Glynn. Picture: Collins

Dr Ronan Glynn. Picture: Collins

Dr Ronan Glynn. Picture: Collins

Family doctors say they are concerned at the numbers of older people seeking Covid-19 tests as the number of infected over-65s doubled in the last week.

The warning from GPs comes as Covid-19 tightened its grip in most counties and the country faced into three weeks of Level 3 lockdown this morning.

But there is some light on the horizon as the World Health Organisation yesterday said there was hope a vaccine might be ready at the end of the year.

Dr Nuala O'Connor, of the Irish College of General Practitioners, said: "It's now up to everyone to absolutely adhere to Level 3 restrictions by restricting their social contacts, and maintaining social distancing as much as possible.

"The big increase in cases week-on-week is very worrying. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and community care has been increasing rapidly with a 30pc increase in hospitalisations last week alone, and sadly 36 people have died of Covid-19 in September."

Another death was reported and a further 432 new cases were diagnosed yesterday with several counties, including Monaghan, Longford, Roscommon Clare and Cork, joining Dublin and Donegal with high 14-day incidences of the virus.

In his statement yesterday to accompany the figures, chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan made no reference to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar's criticism levelled at the National Public Health Emergency Team's (Nphet) call for a Level 5 lockdown to stem the rise in the virus.

Dr Holohan, who resumed his post this week, said: "It is essential that there is a broad societal effort over the coming weeks. Every one of us has the power to interrupt the spread of this virus and now is a vital time to use it.

"Focus on what you can do - wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering, keep your distance from others, avoid crowds, limit your social network, know the symptoms and what to do if you experience them or are a close contact of a confirmed case."

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Deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn added: "If you experience a cough, fever, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell, please isolate and phone your GP without delay.

"Do not go to work and try not to interact with others. This is a vital action if we are to break the chains of transmission."

Yesterday's newly diagnosed cases show that Dublin - which is now in its third week at Level 3 - is continuing to see a high level of infection.

There were 111 new cases in Dublin and 51 in Donegal which is in its second week of Level 3 measures.

A further 41 were diagnosed in Cork, 32 in Clare and the remaining 197 were spread across 20 counties.

Cork GP Dr Mary Favier said: "We as GPs see the impact that the Covid-19 measures are having on people's mental health, particularly those in vulnerable and disadvantaged groups.

"People living or working in crowded conditions are particularly vulnerable, and general stress levels are high.

Crowded

"It is much more difficult to manage a Covid-19 outbreak in a crowded household, and people working in retail and service industries are at particular risk of stress."

People with mental health worries are urged to contact their GP for advice and to take steps to reduce stressful situations.

"We as GPs can give advice to patients who are feeling overwhelmed by this. In general it is very helpful to take regular exercise and maintain regular sleep routines.

"Avoiding excess alcohol is helpful and setting a limit to the amount of digital media you consume is important.

"We know old and young can feel stressed at this time. Keeping active and sticking to routines does help."

People are reminded that GP surgeries continue to remain open during the current restrictions, even if there are no "walk-in" appointments.

Meanwhile, the number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 stood at 150 yesterday and 24 were in intensive care, up from one the previous day and the highest number of patients in intensive care since mid-June.


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