A local GP has told how he supports the introduction of the Level 3 Covid-19 restrictions and has urged people to obey the safety guidelines in a bid to prevent the further spread of the virus.
Dr John McKeown, from the Carlingford Medical Centre, has welcomed the Government’s decision to move the country into Level 3 of Ireland’s Plan for Living with Covid-19.
And the local GP is calling on everyone to adhere to the stricter safety measures and work together to get through the Covid-19 crisis and “try to get out the other side” of the pandemic.
Dr McKeown, speaking to the Democrat, said: “Speaking as a GP working in the community, I certainly support the Level 3 Covid-19 measures that have been introduced.
“Before the Government made the announcement about the country moving into Level 3 it was expected that we were going to be put into Level 4 or 5.
“The Government made the decision to depart from NPHET’s recommendation of introducing Level 5 for economic reasons.
“But at least they moved the country into Level 3 and put stricter restrictions in place, which I believe is a good thing.
“I support Level 3 measures being in place and I would urge everyone to adhere to the safety measures to try and control the spread of Covid-19.
“If people reduce their social contacts by half it could make such a difference to the situation.
“People need to do what they are being asked to do and adhere to the safety measures that have been put in place and do the right thing.
“And the three big things are wearing face covering, washing our hands and social distancing.
“We all need to work together to get through this and try to get out the other side.”
Dr McKeown had a specific message for young people saying that he knows it is difficult for them being unable to socialise as they normally would under the Covid-19 restrictions but urged them to not go to house parties in a bid to try and fight the pandemic gripping the country.
“I would urge younger people, under the age of 30, to please obey the safety restrictions in place”, Dr McKeown said.
“I know young people love socialising, I have two teenage children myself, so I know how important socialising and meeting up with friends is to them.
“But I would urge them to respect the current restrictions in place.
“I know it is difficult, but I would urge them not to go to parties and if they are meeting a few friends to ensure they are adhering to safety measures and obeying the guidelines.
“I know it is hard for them, but I would ask them to be patient for the next six months and for everyone to work together to try and get through this.”
Dr McKeown said he saw an increase of patients being referred for Covid-19 testing last month as children returned to school.
“Our practice, which has three doctors, certainly experienced a surge of referrals for Covid-19 testing at the beginning of September”, Dr McKeown said.
“There was a steady increase of testing in the first two weeks of last month.
“With schools reopening and kids going back to the classroom there was an increase in children that needed to be tested for coronavirus.
“There was definitely an increase when kids first went back to school but it is levelling out now so that is good to see.
“In our practice, which covers Carlingford, Omeath and Jenkinstown, we are ordering 20 to 30 Covid-19 tests a day.”
Last month County Louth was one of the counties on the brink of being hit with Level 3 restrictions similar to Donegal and Dublin, prior to the whole country being placed under the stricter measures last week.
The 14-day incidence rate of Covid-19 infections in the Wee County in the last two weeks of September rose to 121, with the Dundalk-Carlingford electoral area having one of the highest incidence rate of Covid-19 per 100,000 in that period, with 136.7 cases per 100,000 population, making it one of the highest in the country at the time.
Louth’s 14-day incidence rate for Covid-19 has gone down since and currently stands below the national average.
Dr McKeown said: “We are in the semi-rural area of Carlingford and people seem to be doing the right thing, well the indigenous local people anyway. I have seen the odd hen party, but I can’t comment on how well they were regulated as I don’t know.
“But pubs had to be closed by 11.30pm and now under the new restrictions most of them are completely shut.”
Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick last week called for an all-Ireland approach to the Covid-19 crisis as he is frustrated by the amount of people travelling from Northern Ireland - where the coronavirus rate is exceptionally high - into Carlingford and Omeath.
Mr Fitzpatrick, speaking in the Dail last Tuesday, said: “Every time I go to Carlingford and Omeath all I see are yellow number plates coming from the North.
“We are busting our backsides in the south but if you look at all the Coronavirus in the North, they’re having an epidemic there at the moment.”
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