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GPs asked to put away phones as covid link 'concerning'

New guidance for family doctors

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Dr Ronan Glynn. Picture: Collins

Dr Ronan Glynn. Picture: Collins

Colin Keegan

Dr Ronan Glynn. Picture: Collins

A warning has been given to GPs to beware of the Covid-19 risk from using their mobile phone in the surgery.

Phones can lead to the infection being passed, so when treating patients they need to ensure they clean their hands after taking a call or sending a text.

New guidance for family doctors on how to operate their surgeries in the Covid-19 era singles out their use of mobile phones as an area of concern and special attention.

"Before using a mobile device remove your gloves and perform hand hygiene," the guidelines from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre warns.

It cautions against inappropriate use of a mobile device during a clinical procedure and said if a healthcare worker has to take a call or text they should remove themselves from the activity, take off their gloves and clean their hands

It says that remote consultations with patients can be useful to minimise unnecessary face-to-face visits.

However "attendance at the practice by most patients" need not be discouraged where that is preferred.

It comes as no new deaths from Covid-19 were announced yesterday. No deaths were also reported on Sunday and Monday, with one death on Tuesday.

There were 11 more people diagnosed with the virus yesterday bringing the number of infections so far to 25,542.

Acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said: "A key element of our response to Covid-19 is ensuring that any person experiencing symptoms - cough, shortness of breath, fever, loss of sense of smell or taste - comes forward for testing.

"Please do not adopt a 'wait-and-see' approach, instead isolate yourself and contact your GP without delay."

He said the National Public Health Emergency Team meets again today and it will discuss the next phase of the roadmap out of lockdown, including the opening of pubs which only serve alcohol.

It will also examine how it will proceed with the so-called 'green list' of countries in Europe with low levels of Covid-19 which would form air bridges with Ireland and allow Irish tourists go on holiday without the need for quarantine on arrival or return home.

There remains strong concern that cases of the virus will be brought back here or imported by tourists visiting Ireland leading to more spread of the infection and the potential for clusters.

Public health authorities here will need to ensure they identify cases of the virus as soon as possible as the exit from lockdown continues and more people mix together.

Meanwhile, Prof John Wender, a Prof of Chemistry in UCC who is one of the 239 scientists from 32 countries who signed a letter to the World Health Organisation asking it to consider the growing evidence that Covid-19 may airborne, said it may mean additional measures to reduce risk may need to be looked at.

"One area to avoid is high room occupancy. We do that already with distancing measures. We should avoid spending a long time indoors, particularly in smaller rooms with other people unless wearing masks.

He said loud singing or shouting should be avoided, particularly indoors.

There should also be increased ventilation - simply opening doors or windows reduces any virus in the air.

Irish Independent