Contact tracing will now be carried out for those suspected of having Covid-19 under new measures to tackle the virus, the Health Minister has said.
Simon Harris said a team of 1,400 health officials will work to trace and contact people who have been in close quarters with suspected cases, instead of only confirmed positive cases.
Mr Harris was speaking at the new facility in Citywest Dublin, where more than 1,000 beds are being made available for those who need to self-isolate.
He said: “As of the recommendation yesterday and working with our GPs, if there are suspected cases of Covid-19 the contact tracing can start before you get the positive result.
“That seems like a sensible precaution because the whole purpose of the testing and contact tracing is to try and identify the virus as much as possible and isolate it to slow down the spread.
“There will also be contact tracing for suspect cases before they’re confirmed. And now that we have the resources in terms of 1,400 people, that seems like a sensible thing too.
“The national public health emergency tracing team has now said we should not actually be waiting for a suspect case to be confirmed before contact tracing so if there are suspected cases of Covid-19, the contact tracing can start before you actually need a positive test result.”
Visited the HSEâs new self isolation facility in Citywest this morning. Itâs accepting its first patients today. The convention centre is being converted to a Covid19 Step Down facility with 450 beds. In the hotel, thereâs approx 1,000 beds for those who need to self isolate pic.twitter.com/A1IIhyDtTX— Leo Varadkar (@LeoVaradkar) April 1, 2020
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said there will be delays in the coming weeks with both testing and receiving results due to global shortages of equipment.
He added: “It is important to bear in mind, getting your test results in itself doesn’t actually determine whether or not you get any better. This is a virus that has no treatment.
“So the fact that somebody is delayed in getting their test results doesn’t actually determine in any way when they get better or not, but it does help us to identify more cases and do more tracing.”