ICGP welcomes widening of COVID-19 testing criteria to everyone with one of three symptoms.

Patients urged to self-isolate as soon as symptoms appear.

Dr Mary Favier, President of the ICGP, said: “The Irish College of General Practitioners welcomes the widening of the COVID-19 testing criteria. We need to be able to track this virus, so the wider we can cast the net the better.”

From today, a patient need only have one of three key symptoms – a fever, cough, or shortness of breath – to seek a COVID-19 test via their GP.  Testing is no longer confined to priority groups only.

Dr Favier added: “This is a necessary step as restrictions are easing. We are increasingly confident the systems the HSE have put in place will be able to accommodate and manage the ramping up in the number of tests performed each week.”

 “ As we increase the number of tests, it is critically important that contact tracing is timely and appropriately organised in order to deal with the anticipated rise.  If a test result is positive, Public Health must ensure they  quickly trace that person’s contacts so that we are then managing the ongoing spread of the disease.”

Dr Nuala O’Connor, the ICGP’s Lead Adviser on COVID-19 said: “The advice to patients waiting for results does not change. We  emphasise that patients should contact their GP for advice if they are feeling unwell, and self-isolate for 14 days.

“Confirming a diagnosis of a COVID-19 by testing does not affect the advice to patients on how to recover. Your GP is the best person to advise you if you are concerned that you have symptoms of COVID-19 infection. Please do contact your GP by phone if you are concerned.  The GP can decide if you meet the criteria for testing.  Anyone with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 needs to self-isolate for 14 days and their household contacts need to restrict their movements. “

Dr O’Connor added: “Household contacts who develop symptoms must also be tested. GPs will monitor the symptoms and decide if a patient needs further assessment and referral to a COVID-19 hub or a hospital.”

 Dr O’Connor urged people to continue to practice social distancing and wash their hands to help limit the spread of the virus in the community.

“Your personal actions can save a life. This is more important as restrictions start to be lifted.”

Dr Tony Cox, Medical Director of the ICGP, said “GPs are concerned that patients with non-COVID-19 illnesses are not contacting their GPs. New cancer referrals to  hospitals, for example, are significantly down and we need to hear from these people. If you have any worries about your health or chronic condition, please do pick up the phone to  your GP.”ENDS

ISSUED BY: Aileen O’Meara, Communications Consultant ICGP. Tel. 087 2239830. Email: media@icgp.ie

Twitter @ICGPnews