Limerick GP fears emergency supplies ‘not appropriate’ for coronavirus

Rebecca Laffan & Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Rebecca Laffan & Fintan Walsh

Limerick GP fears emergency supplies ‘not appropriate’ for coronavirus

The Leader received a picture of the mask supplied to GPs in Limerick this Wednesday

A LOCAL GP has expressed fear that HSE supplies are not enough to protect frontline medical staff from exposure to Covid-19, also known as the the novel ‘Wuhan’ coronavirus. 

After 65 suspected cases were investigated in Irish facilities, including a small number at University Hospital Limerick, GPs and healthcare staff were issued with protective equipment this week. 

This includes four face masks, goggles, hand gels, clinical waste bags, gloves and gowns. The doctor, who does not wish to be named, sent a picture of the masks to the Leader. 

The medical professional said they “doubt” it is enough and that “in the case of an exposure, there is no way this is appropriate to protect frontline staff in a surgery”. 

The doctor said that the “actual” N95 respirator masks being supplied to Australian medics “might be more appropriate”. 

A HSE spokesperson told the Leader this Wednesday evening: “The personal protective equipment provided in the packs for General Practitioners meets the specifications and guidelines of the WHO and the  current Irish Infection Prevention and Control Precautions for Possible or Confirmed 2019 Covid-19 which are available on the HPSC website www.hpsc.ie.”

At the time of going to print on Wednesday, there were no confirmed Covid-19 cases in Limerick and Ireland, after UHL launched an investigation into suspected cases at the weekend. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told the Leader that when a detection has been confirmed, it will identify the location of the case. 

The individuals with the suspected cases are understood to have visited China in recent weeks or were in contact with another individual with the virus, and were presenting with flu-like symptoms.

Individuals are kept in isolation as part of activation plans in cases of suspected coronavirus.

Also as part of activation plans, a specimen sample is taken from the patient which is then sent to a lab for examination. The results take approximately 24 hours.

Chief Medical Officer of the Department of Health, Dr Tony Holohan said the  Irish health system is currently operating a containment strategy in line with global practice, and all our efforts are focused on identifying suspected cases as they arise and initiating measures to prevent onward transmission of the virus. 

“The National Public Health Emergency Team continues to coordinate response efforts between the Health Service and other Government Departments and Agencies, to ensure a comprehensive response in the event of a confirmed case.

“Anyone returning from China in the last 14 days, and experiencing symptoms associated with Covid-19, is instructed to self- isolate and contact the health service via phone or email.”

Hospitals across the country have plans in place to deal with any increase in demand due to a viral threat, including Covid-19 (Coronavirus), including the supply of over 6,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) packs that have been distributed to GP Out of Hours Services, Public Health Departments and GP Practices.

Covid-19 is spread through contact and droplets so good cough and sneeze hygiene, with regular hand washing, is the best way to keep well.

The general public is encouraged to inform themselves on prevention measures issued by HSE and to follow HPSC for regular daily updates.