A Donegal GP has said that close contacts who receive a negative Covid-19 test are not getting the message that they need to restrict their movements for 14 days.

Speaking on RTÉ's Brendan O'Connor, Dr Martin Coyne, who is based in Lifford, said that people are interpreting a negative test as them being "fine", when "it doesn't mean that".

He said they have seen cases where one patient has tested negative the first time around, before being tested a second time and coming back positive, adding that people should get a test done, and then a second test seven days later.

Dr Coyne said: "You really don't want to come in touch with this virus at all, because if you're a contact and you've tested negative, you still have to restrict your movements and stay at home for 14 days, even if you've had a negative test. 

"And we've seen this with our own patients who've had negative tests where they don't get that message.

"They feel a negative test means I'm fine, it does not mean that."


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He said even if there is a negative test result in a household, all people in the household should be restricting their movements, adding that this can be avoided by wearing a mask, washing hands and adhering to public health advice at an individual level.

He said the virus is a societal problem, but it is up to individuals to break the cycle of infection. 

He said if you think that way, then you will not catch Covid-19.

Dr Coyne said they had 17 Covid-19 cases in six months before the 10 September, but that since then they have had 57 cases in two weeks, which he said was an "explosion".

He also said once they had a positive test case, they would ring patients to inform them of the result, before encouraging the patients to try and identify people who they may have been in contact with.

He said they would then get those people to get in touch with him or their GP in order to arrange a test. He said with this, they were able to pinpoint specific events where people may have picked up the virus.

Dr Coyne said the benefit of living in a rural community was that these events were not anonymous, and that "the dogs in the street know where the parties have been".

He said contact tracing is a public health skill, and not something that most GPs would have. 

He added what he was doing in Donegal was done in an opportunistic way and being done in a way that might not be fool-proof.

Meanwhile a leading Donegal hotelier has said he fears the season is over and it could be St Patrick's Day before tourist towns like Bundoran see business getting back to normal. 

Brian McEniff said he will be closing the Allingham Arms and Great Northern Hotels and it was a sad time for staff, who will be unemployed.