AS one West Cork school has cancelled its trip to Italy, which is in the grips of the coronavirus, a Castletownbere doctor has voiced major concerns over the kits GPs have been given by the HSE in preparation for any outbreak here.
Dr Jacqui Glisson runs one of two general practices based in Castletownbere and has 2,500 patients attending her surgery. Most GPs she said appeared to have received their kits of personal protective equipment around Valentine’s weekend.
However, her practice did not receive theirs until Tuesday of this week, only to discover that vital pieces of equipment were missing – masks and alcohol hand-rub.
‘It’s very worrying to have vital pieces of equipment missing. How can I ensure that my practice staff are protected in the event of a suspected case in Beara?’ she asked.
Dr Glisson contacted a GP forum to voice her concerns and to see if any other GPs were in the same situation, only to discover others have had the same experience.
The Beara peninsula has a full-time population of approximately 6,000 and is home to Ireland’s largest international fishing port – Castletownbere – and due to its location on the Wild Atlantic Way is also a popular tourism destination.
Dr Glisson says the current spread of coronavirus is ‘very worrying.’
‘The information GPs are getting is changing on a daily basis as the disease itself is evolving,’ she noted.
The HSE in reply, said it was up to individual GPs to contact their suppliers if items were missing from their kits.
Meanwhile, a group of students from Kinsale College have cancelled their trip to Rimini in Italy. They were due to depart this Sunday. Students at Skibbereen Community School are due to travel to the virus-stricken country at Easter and are keeping the situation under review.
Skibbereen woman Emer Downing, who lives in Bergamo, Northern Italy, is in the heart of the infected area.
The situation has escalated since last weekend, she said. ‘Face masks and hand-sanitisers quickly sold out,’ she told The Southern Star. ‘Supermarkets became very busy and shelves emptied with people stocking up in preparation for a possible lockdown.’
Kate Kelly, who runs a guesthouse outside Clonakilty, said she has stopped taking bookings from people in affected areas and has cancelled a booking made by Italians who were coming for the West Cork Rally next month.
‘Money is not important and health comes first. We all need to be responsible about this,’ said Kate.
‘I really feel that people are not taking this seriously and the country is not prepared. There are no masks even available in chemists.’
In Ireland there were 90 suspected cases, but none tested positive. Symptoms may include a cough, breathing difficulties, or a high temperature. See www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus for more.
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