Several GPs have criticised Health Minister Simon Harris following what they call “misleading” comments he made on RTÉ’s Prime Time regarding the covid-19 virus. 

Referring to the virus, which has infected at least 61 people on the island of Ireland and claimed its first death on Irish soil last night, the Fine Gael health minister said: “More and more we’re seeing our GPs testing for this and recommending people to be tested for this.”

Medical experts immediately took to Twitter, with Cork-based GP Jim Harty saying it was “disappointing to hear SimonHarris mislead public about important issue like #COVID19. GPs cannot test for this (and their) recommendations for testing counts for nothing. Public health works off an algorithm – GP recommendation not even considered.”

 

Dr Harty’s post was retweeted by Dr. Nina Byrne, who said: “GP’s CANNOT test for the disease, SimonHarrisTD please stop saying this on primetime.”

Dr. Richard Ceann weighed in with a tweet of his own: “Right minister, let us ‘be really blunt and honest’ with you. GPs cannot test for COVID19, so please clarify this to the public. We have no direct line to public health to discuss suspected cases. We are on the front line, are massively exposed but somewhat left to fend for ourselves.”

 

Other GPs also posted similar messages on Twitter, with doctors pointing out that the correct procedure was not to attend your GP, but to phone your local doctor for guidance.

 

Medical professionals have also expressed outrage that the HSE has advised them to go to hardware shops or garden centres in search of face masks, with  Newstalk host contributor Ciara Kelly describing this as “not acceptable”.