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Spread of virus now seems inevitable, warns local GP

IF AND when Covid-19 hits Fermanagh those in our community who are more vulnerable to the virus have been urged by local doctors to take special measures to protect themselves.
Both Ederney GP Dr Brendan O’Hare, pictured below and Enniskillen GP Dr Johnny Guette, from Devenish Practice, have stressed that, at the time of going to print, there were no known cases of coronavirus in Fermanagh.
However, both doctors felt it was highly unlikely the county would avoid the spread of the virus, and if and when it arrived older people would have to take steps to protect themselves.
“At the moment I would say it is OK, but that might be different in a week or a month. It is coming,” said Dr Guette, who add it would now be very difficult to completely stop the spread of the virus.
If you’re healthy and below 60, with no lung conditions or conditions which require immunosuppressant medication, Dr Guette, pictured right, said you had no reason to overly worry about catching the virus. He said those under 20 in particular had “hardly any chance of becoming severely ill.”
If you are over 60 with underlying health conditions, however, the doctor said you should avoid contact “with anyone who is coughing or spluttering.” If the virus becomes widespread here, he said vulnerable patients should avoid contact with others if possible.
“Stay in your house more, or go to somewhere like Florence Court. Go out for walks somewhere were there are not many people,” he said. “Go out to the shops at night. The thing is, people in shops touch things, they look at things and put them back on the shelves.”
With regard to nursing homes, Dr Guette said people should limit visits in the case of a local outbreak and practice good hygiene.
“It is important for older folks to keep their social interaction, but I would say at the end of the day their health is paramount,” he said.
Dr O’Hare also stressed the virus had not spread in Fermanagh so far, but said the situation could change quickly.
“The risk of this infection to young people is trivial and negligible. The risk to frail elderly people with underlying health conditions is exceptionally serious,” he said.
Dr O’Hare continued: “Once [the virus] starts to circulate, the problem is many people, particularly younger people, have virtually no symptoms and are unaware they have this thing and are spreading it because they are well. They could still be the means through which elderly people could be exposed.
“I would feel when it starts to escalate in the community, elderly people themselves and those who care for them either in a home or a care home situation, should become very rigorous about who they let see them, and keep contact with others to a minimum.”

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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