A TOP GP has said there is concern among doctors over testing delays as GP referrals increase by 200 per cent.
The Irish College of General Practitioners lead advisor on Covid-19 Nuala O’ Connor said the delays were “causing problems.”
Dr O’ Connor spoke about the turn around time for testing and contact tracing which is currently 2.83 days.
However, she explained that doctors say this figure is “not consistent”, with some waiting “more than 5 days for a test result.”
She told RTE’s Morning Ireland: “GPs on the ground around the country have definitely noticed a change.
“A couple of weeks ago, everywhere around the country, the patient had the appointment within 24 hours. Now it’s going out to around 48 hours, perhaps even a little bit longer.”
The Cork GP explained that the process from the time patients present to the GP with symptoms, to getting the test, to getting the result has extended and is “certainly causing problems.”
She continued: “In the past five or six weeks there’s been a 200 per cent increase in GP referrals and close contact testing and in the last week alone it’s 53 per cent higher than the previous week.
“The Irish College of General Practitioners is concerned about the delays and if we’re still at this point next week, I would be even more concerned.”
Speaking about the main testing laboratories in Ireland, of which there are two, she said that “we have gone a little bit backwards in terms of the responsiveness of the system at the moment.”
She added: “Even though the case numbers are going up for Covid, at the same time the positivity rate is quite low.
RISE IN CASES
“So in fact, the number of people who are sent for tests has increased but the number of people overall who have a positive test is still only around 1.2 per cent.”
Dr O’ Connor instructed parents to speak with their GP immediately if their child presents with any symptoms.
She said: “If your child does have symptoms or a fever it’s most likely that they do not have Covid.
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“But you do need to contact your GP and have a discussion whether or not a test is required or whether it’s one of the usual viral bugs that are around that people are going to get better by themselves.”
As of yesterday evening, there were 190 new cases confirmed and one new death.
This brings the Covid-19 related death toll on the island to 1,775 and the total number of confirmed cases to 27,499.