Dr Padraig McGarry
Community hubs are being tried out across the country, according to local GP, Dr Padraig McGarry, and one is hopefully due to be opened on the Killashee Road. Another in Athlone had a “dry run” last week.
“I'm not sure what dates it will be up and running but that will be determined by the rate of demand,” said Dr McGarry.
“As the numbers increase, so will that demand. It’ll be a slow growth with a slow demand for people who need hospitalisation or intensive care treatment.
“But as the demand is kept down by social distancing, that has a knock-on effect of reducing the capacity in hospitals.
“The efforts of the public in retaining social distancing are having a big effect on that,” he added.
“It’s tough, but social distancing has been proven to work because the effect of the virus has dropped dramatically.
“At the start, each patient could have 20 contacts, then that dropped to five, and now it’s under three. That’s what’s keeping the curve down. It’s very significant.”
At the moment, the numbers in Longford are still relatively small, with 56 cases of the virus confirmed as of Tuesday afternoon.
That’s down to social distancing, a large amount of space in rural Ireland and a low density population, Dr McGarry said.
“People in the east are experiencing a high death rate. What they’re talking about is a sad reality. We haven’t got that here, and hopefully we won't, but the more we do what we’re doing, the better chance we have of slowing the spread.
“We’ve had an extension of the restrictions, which hopefully will continue to drive down the spread of it. It we continue physical distancing and social isolation, it’ll be shown to have its effect,” he said.
A number of the Covid-19 hubs are already up and running in cities such as Cork. These facilities will be places for patients with the virus, or suspected cases of the virus can be assessed separate to their local GP surgery, freeing up surgeries for those who have every day ailments.
“It will provide a reassurance that it’s safe to go to go to your GP because we have created these hubs,” said Dr McGarry.
“Ring your GP if you have symptoms. A lot of people are afraid to do that. I've seen a few cases this week where patients did delay - and for serious conditions.
“There was a good outcome, but it could have been bad, so it’s important to still contact your GP with your symptoms.”