A GP based in Lifford in Co Donegal has said that his practice has seen a significant number of people come forward with symptoms of Covid-19 over the last two weeks, with 60% of them in the 20-40 age group.

A GP based in Lifford in Co Donegal has said that his practice has seen a significant number of people come forward with symptoms of Covid-19 over the last two weeks, with 60% of them in the 20-40 age group.
Dr Paul Armstrong told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that with movement over the border, contact tracing is challenging as there is no co-ordinated cross-border contact tracing.
He said many people are contacting their GP seeking advice on symptoms and contacts they may have had.
He said that while restrictions have been imposed on Donegal, there is movement of people from Donegal, Derry and Tyrone all the time.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn and his Northern Ireland counterpart Dr Michael McBride are today discussing efforts to reduce travel between Co Donegal and Northern Ireland in light of the high number of cases in the region.
Donegal is to move to Level 3 restrictions from midnight tonight, with the measures in place for three weeks until 16 October.
The 14-day incidence of the disease in the county rose again yesterday and was at 122.5 confirmed cases per 100,000 people. This is up from 106.2 on Wednesday, the sharpest jump recorded by any county in the country.
Dr Armstrong said many people who are waiting for test results are not self-isolating and he asked for them to follow the guidelines, to watch their contacts, and to keep their distance from others.
He said his practice had seen three positive cases emerge two weeks ago and since then a significant number of people who have developed symptoms have come forward.
Dr Martin Coyne, another GP in Lifford, said he doesn’t want a “blame game” over Covid-19 but he believes the recent surge of infections in his area has come from large social gatherings in home settings. 
He said from March to September in his practice they had 17 Covid-19 cases while in the last two weeks they have had 54 cases.
“That was a huge and shocking jump for us.”
He said when they talked to patients in the initial start of this surge there were a number of large social gatherings in a home setting and he said they seem to be the “culprit” in this. 
He said Level 3 has certain restrictions but they are not going to work unless they are enforced.
“There have to be penalties for people who choose to ignore the restrictions”.
He said the social events he has identified where the recent infections are happening are widespread. 
“After a football match, two birthday parties, a communion, there was also sadly a wake. We had just let our guard down. People probably were doing that all over the summer and thinking it was fine. But all it takes is one person to get into a situation like that and all of a sudden we have lots of contacts and the R rate goes crazy.”
He said while some of the 54 new cases in Lifford who have Covid-19 are unwell, fortunately no one has ended up in hospital.
He had this warning for those who are not taking the virus seriously. 
“For people out there who don’t believe that this applies to them, I would say this. You are going to take it back to your home or someone in your family who is vulnerable and put them into an ICU bed and possibly kill them.”
He said it is time to change behaviour now and look ahead.
Regarding the threat of the virus spreading across borders he said there is a tracing issue for people going over and back from Donegal to Derrry and vice-versa, he said: “Lifford and Strabane are practically twin towns. People go to school and work in each county … you won’t be able to block Lifford bridge.”
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‘Its a very sore day today’ 
Cathal Doherty, the owner of Ballyliffin Town House in Donegal told RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne that new Level 3 restrictions that come in to force tonight may force business owners in the hospitality sector to remain closed until next spring.
“Its a very sore day today”, he said.
Mr Doherty explained that €15,000 was spent on preparing his hotel for reopening after restrictions were lifted earlier this year. 
He said the summer was good for business, but now the future is uncertain as there is no guarantee that businesses will be allowed to return to activity in three weeks. 
He said the “yo-yo effect” of opening and closing may spell the end of some businesses.
“Speaking to other businesses last night and this morning there is a feeling that a lot of us might just decide that that’s it now, and hold off until March or April.  That is very hard to build yourself up again from this, it is mentally sore.  You can do all the packages you want but when you’re on the borderline of closing every couple of months the yo yo effect, well sooner ot later that string is going to break.”10:10 
Mr Doherty said he believes off-licence sales of alcohol should be addressed. 
“I think they are skirting around it. Should we be doing a tighter level 3 but a shorter level 3.” 
Mr Doherty explained that five of his family members work in the business. “From a family point of view this is treacherous.” 
A longer notice period of the restrictions would have been appreciated Mr Doherty said, as he had to place order for food before 5pm yesterday. Much of this food will now be donated to local care centres, he said. 
“We had a full house of residents, we had no choice. The government should be aware of this at this stage.  All of that is going to waste.  It is going to be seriously damaging to our trade.” 
Mr Doherty was due to visit his father for the first time in months later today.  He is a resident in a nursing home.  Mr Doherty had chosen not to visit him during the summer while he was interacting with the public in his business. 
He had curtailed these interactions over the last few weeks so that he would be able to safely visit his father today. “I don’t think that is going to happen today.  I was so looking forward to seeing him.  It is a very sore day today.”
Mr Doherty estimated that when Level 3 restrictions were imposed in Dublin his business lost 30% of its bookings overnight. 
“It was frightening”, he said. He said the proximity to Northern Ireland is another drawback at the moment as cases rise there. 
“We have a lot going against us in the county where we are geographically placed.”