Covid: We’re firmly in grip of huge wave of infections

We are currently firmly in the grip of a huge wave of Covid infections with extremely high infection numbers right across NI and particularly high infection rates in our local area, writes Dr Tom Black.

Dr Tom Black.
Dr Tom Black.

There have been nearly 6,000 cases in the last seven days and most of the case numbers seem to be in the 20-30 age group.

We would expect that, with schools going back this week, the case numbers in the younger age groups will rise again.

Thankfully, at this stage, the new Omicron variant seems to result in a milder illness for most people but there will always be some people who become unwell and need hospital treatment; there has been a small uptick in the number of people in hospital with Covid.

Where the real issue lies is that, with increased cases, there will be more medical staff off work, either with infections, as close contacts or caring for others in their own family who are ill.

This will have an impact on the services that can be provided safely and will likely result in some procedures in hospital being postponed or cancelled.

It will also increase pressure on general practice as GPs and support staff are off work. So, I would ask everyone to have patience over the next few weeks as we deal with this increase in case numbers.

Thankfully, vaccinations are helping keep cases milder so I would encourage everyone to either get their booster, when eligible, or, if they have not had any vaccinations at all yet, to get vaccinated.

Use the Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests before meeting other people and, critically, if you have symptoms, please get a PCR test.

Dr Tom Black is a GP based in Derry. He is chairperson of the British Medical Association (BMA) in NI.