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Contagion could result in alarming doctor shortage

IT IS ALREADY widely accepted that we have a chronic shortage of GPs in Fermanagh, but if the coronavirus spreads locally, the situation could get a lot worse. 
With healthcare workers on the frontline, if the virus spreads locally it is inevitable some staff will come in contact with Covid-19 patients. If that happens, those workers will have to self-isolate, and that will include any GPs, who will not risk spreading it to their patients. 
Dr Johnny Guette, a GP at Devenish Practise in Enniskillen, said he was preparing to self-isolate just in case he contracted the virus, noting he was at high risk of coming in contact with Covid-19. 
“I wouldn’t be too worried about myself, but nobody knows,” Dr Guette told the Herald. “What I’m worried about is, will I have to close my surgery if I get it?”
Currently, Fermanagh GPs have not been issued with any protective clothing in the case of an outbreak in the county.
Ederney GP Dr Brendan O’Hare said while he felt there was no need for doctors to be panicking about the disease, “we should not in anyway be complacent.” 
 “We should have the proper protective gear, but we don’t have anything yet,” he said. “We have no protectively gear, and no tightly fitted masks that give you higher level of protection against lung disease. It is rumoured they are manufactured in China and haven’t arrived.”
At the moment patients who have been abroad and are showing any cold or flu symptoms are being urged not to go to their GP and not to attend the SWAH ED in person. Instead, they are being urged to ring ahead to their doctor, and follow their advice. This normally entails driving to a medical centre and being assessed in your car. 
However, Dr O’Hare noted: “The idea was, primary care would not manage these high risk people. If numbers escalate I don’t think there will be a prospect of trying to avoid it.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 28 Belmore Street, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, BT74 6AA