Welsh doctor's plea to visitors from cities "stay away until coronavirus passes"

22 March 2020, 15:13

By Seán Hickey

People have been moving to countryside locations to avoid the spread of coronavirus in cities, but this rural doctor told them to stay away.

Dr. Eilir Hughes spoke to Maajid Nawaz to tell of his worry about a swell in rural population as urban dwellers evacuate big cities to avoid the spread of coronavirus. The GP told Maajid that this exercise is putting the lives of rural people at risk.

"People in rural areas are generally upset about this" Maajid began, he wanted to delve further into the problem with Dr. Hughes.

Dr. Hughes said that it is "a concern all holiday hotspots have across the UK." He explained how the theory works, stating that "they'll be bringing this virus in quicker than we've anticipated" because of their interaction with people on the way to the countryside, using supermarkets and petrol stations and possibly picking up the coronavirus.

Dr. Hughes added that "the resources we have in these communities is based off the population we normally have" and the countryside simply cannot cope with the prospect of their population swelling threefold in the coming days and weeks.

People from rural areas have seen their services stretched
People from rural areas have seen their services stretched. Picture: PA

Maajid pointed out that in rural communities "capacity would be nowhere near prepared" if people still came in their droves after this warning.

The GP pointed out that in his community, the closest hospital is in Bangor, several miles away. It is clear to Dr. Hughes that "very quickly that hospital will get saturated" should urban dwellers still arrive in the Welsh countryside.

Maajid was curious of how Dr. Hughes' GP practice was coping with the coronavirus outbreak so far. Although he said that so far they were managing the demand, "we believe the situation will get worse".

Dr. Hughes told that there already have been cases of doctors being called by "people usually not from here" and that those people "are requesting medical services".

As a result of this, the GP told Maajid that this is "putting a huge strain" on pharmacies, who usually only have enough stock for the normal population.