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Saturday 2 December 2023 Dublin: 3°C
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Post-match parties and house gatherings: Where GPs notice Covid outbreaks originating

A GP said one outbreak was linked to match celebrations where team members drank shots out of a championship cup.

GPS HAVE SAID a number of Covid-19 outbreaks have been linked to post-GAA match celebrations and family gatherings. 

A GP in Leinster said one outbreak in the province was linked to a post-match party during which team members “took shots” from a championship cup. 

They also said there have been a lot of outbreaks among families where a person is awaiting a Covid-19 test result and, in the interim, attend family celebrations like birthdays and christenings. 

There were 522 outbreaks of Covid-19 across the country last month, with the majority of clusters originating from private households.

There have been 4,957 outbreaks in total since the start of the pandemic. 

The GP in Leinster said they receive reports from around the country about clusters and outbreaks. 

“There was an 18-person cluster from a championship final this week,” they said.

They added that there have been three large clusters in a county in Leinster linked to matches. 

The GP said that in one of these outbreaks, team members following a winning match were “all drinking in the pub afterwards and taking shots from the cup”. 

Another outbreak was linked to a lock-in following a match, the doctor said. 

The outbreaks are not solely GAA and, in fairness, the training is fine. It’s what these guys in their 20s, 30s and some of them in their 40s as well [do when] going to celebrations afterwards.

A spokesperson for the GAA said county activity will return this weekend with league games and early round championship matches. 

“These games would be unlikely to generate celebrations comparable to the county finals,” he said. 

“We are operating under NPHET’s guidelines which designate inter-county activity as elite level sport.” 

The GAA suspended all club games at all levels on 5 October until further notice. 

The GP said there have been “multiple outbreaks” linked to people awaiting test results attending birthdays, christenings and other family celebrations. 

They added that one issue in slowing virus transmission is people being “slow to isolate” and waiting to speak up about symptoms for two or three days because they “don’t want to bother” their GP. 

“I still see a lot of people bringing their children home from school or their partners home from work following a request for the person to isolate and the family members to restrict. That message is not getting through at all.”

Border counties

On Wednesday night, the government announced that counties Monaghan, Donegal and Cavan would be put under Level 4 restrictions. 

Monaghan GP Illona Duffy reiterated that gatherings of people after GAA matches have “definitely been a problem” in creating Covid-19 outbreaks in Monaghan and Cavan. 

“The problem is that there are people gathering to celebrate or commiserate after them so that’s something that needs to absolutely be addressed,” she said. 

“For us here in Monaghan, there’s supposed to be a match this weekend, Monaghan versus Kerry, and I would just be concerned that people will gather after that, especially if they were to win.

While that is not the GAA’s fault, we have to look at the wisdom of allowing matches to continue.

This game is due to be held behind closed doors. 

The GP said outbreaks related to socialising among younger people “seems to be down a bit” and she said the message “seems to be getting out there in the last week or so” about gatherings among young people.

Speaking about his experience working at a practice in south inner city Dublin, GP Mark Murphy said he has noticed very few outbreaks in his locality at the moment.

“In our practice, whilst we are seeing relatively higher numbers of respiratory tract symptoms from runny nose, cough, temperature, sore throat, only a very, very small minority still in our practice have ended up being Covid,” he said. 

The GP added that the practice has received only five to 10 positive results from referrals since the initial outbreak in March and April.

The “overwhelming majority” of tests referred by this practice come back with no detection of the virus, Murphy said. 

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