WATCH: 'We must treat each other like pariahs' - Top doctor's urgent message over Covid-19 crisis

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

IRELAND has just half the number of intensive care beds that Italy has, a leading Limerick doctor said this week. 

University Hospital Limerick intensive care physician, Dr Catherine Motherway delivered a stern warning to the public about the dangers of the Covid-19 coronavirus on RTE Prime Time this Thursday evening. 

When asked about the availability of ICU beds in Ireland, Dr Motherway who is the president of the Intensive Care Society of Ireland, said: "We are at roughly about half the European norm, and we have half the beds that Italy would have."

She said this poses a "significant problem". 

"Which is why we need people to take this seriously. This is a virus. We know it's near us. We know it's in every county in Ireland. We know that if we don't control the surge, we will have a major problem coping. There is seriously no healthcare service that could cope with what Italy has just gone through or, indeed, Wuhan in China. 

"So, we have a limited amount of beds. We have been working very hard for the last number of weeks to try and increase the capacity. The HSE have funded a significant number of beds, and we have all identified places in our hospitals where we will treat and ventilate patients. 

But, she urged, people do not need to get the disease. 

"You need to do that by keeping away from other people. Two metres away. Stay in your own home. Wash your hands," she said, adding that prevention is the best cure. 

She said that one in five patients in her intensive care unit die. 

"I don't know the death rate from this disease yet because it is new. You don't need to get on a ventilator with this. You need not to get it. You need to make sure, if you're young, you don't give it to your parents or your grandparents. That is really important. 

"Keep away from each other. Essentially, we must treat each other like pariahs, but that's what we have to do."