BOTH the Bandon and Bantry areas have Covid rates well above the national average, new HSE figures show.
As the virus spreads at an alarming rate in the area, a local GP has warned that infections are likely to get a lot worse in the coming weeks.
Dr Fiona Kelly, a GP in Castletownbere, told The Southern Star that while the Beara peninsula was relatively Covid-free in the first and second waves, all that has changed. The number of phone calls being fielded by staff at the Bank Place Clinic is ‘off the scales’ now, she said.
The Bandon/Kinsale and Bantry local electoral areas both have a 14-day incidence rate well above the national average of 245.6 per 100,000 population, latest figures (December 14th to December 28th) show.
The Bandon/Kinsale rate is 338.1, while in Bantry it’s even higher, at 370.1 per 100,000.
There were 126 confirmed positive cases of Covid-19 in Bandon/Kinsale up to December 28th, and 83 in Bantry, while Skibbereen had 47 and Macroom had 31 positive cases.
‘Every day now when I turn on my computer there are more positive results and we have noticed an alarming rise in the last week since the Christmas period,’ said Dr Kelly. ‘Covid is everywhere and it will get worse before it gets better.’
Dr Kelly added that there are a lot of people out there who are asymptomatic and don’t realise they have the virus, making it a dangerous situation in the community.
‘The important thing is to stay at home if you have symptoms and if you are a close contact of a confirmed case, it really is imperative that you restrict your movements for 14 days.’
Dr Margaret O’Brien in Kinsale told The Southern Star that the virus was now ‘absolutely rampant’ and numbers were ‘going through the roof’ with every local GP practice experiencing positive cases every day.
‘It is much busier now than last March or April,’ she said in an online post this week.
Nursing homes across the country are also experiencing a rise in cases, and vaccinations for some West Cork nursing homes are expected to be scheduled for next week.
CUH has urged visitors not to arrange meetings with patients in cars in their car parks, as they are putting staff and patients at risk.
West Cork’s only Covid testing centre at the Randal Óg GAA park at Ballinacarriga has experienced a steady stream of visitors over the past week.
‘Cork Kerry Community Healthcare is dealing with a significant increase in the number of referrals for tests to all its test centres, including the centre at Dunmanway,’ the HSE said in a statement issued to the Star. ‘On a daily basis, we are regularly receiving more referrals in a day than had been received in a week in mid-December.’
It paid tribute to swab centre staff who are now working extended hours, allowing most referrals to be tested within 48 hours.
The Naval Service, based at Haulbowline, has also confirmed the presence of Covid-19 cases on an unspecified number of ships.
With a new lockdown announced on Wednesday, schools and construction work will be closed until the end of the month and the ‘click and collect’ service operating by some retail businesses will not be allowed.