Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said the Government is running into difficulties securing Covid-19 tests and equipment and that there will be delays.
Speaking in Dublin on Wednesday, Mr Varadkar told reporters he understands the anxiety and worry of people waiting for tests and results.
“The current cause of delay is a shortage of reagents. We hope to address that, but then there may be a shortage of something else. We have to be honest about that – we will hit delays,” he said.
“In Ireland, we’ve decided as a country to do a lot of tests. We’re in the top tier of countries in the world when it comes to number of tests we’re doing. That’s the right thing to do in terms of containing the virus.
“But we are running into difficulties and we need to be honest with people and frank about that.
“There is a global shortage to testing kits, there’s a shortage of reagents, and we also need the laboratory capacity.
“So we are going to have bumps in the road where there are delays at particular points in time.”
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
He continued: “But 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.
“One of the things we decided to do, and that was actually yesterday, is actually to step up contact tracing considerably because we have 14 people now working on contact tracing.
“That’s going to help to make up in some way for the fact that there are delays in getting the test results.”
Ireland’s chief medical officer Tony Holohan is in hospital for tests unrelated to Covid-19.
Mr Holohan told RTE news he is in good spirits and expects to be back to work on Thursday. His deputy, Professor Ronan Glynn, will take over in his absence.
The Health Minister has said the country is beginning to see the benefits of some of the coronavirus measures that the public has undertaken.
Simon Harris said that if an individual was diagnosed with Covid-19 two weeks ago, they had, on average, been in contact with 20 people, but that number had now dropped to an average of three.
“We know, as a result of people staying at home, keeping their distance, we’re making it harder for this virus to spread from one person to the other,” he said.
“That is, quite frankly, the only way we’re going to be able to slow it down, and the more we can slow it down, the more we can protect our health service in terms of the critical capacities of the need for those who do get sick.”
The minister told RTE Morning Ireland that it will take another 10 days to fully ramp up lab services across Ireland.
He admitted that the Government is seeing supply constraints similar to other countries across the world.
“The situation we’re facing here is not in any way unique to Ireland. I’m very satisfied that the health service is doing everything humanly possible to ramp up testing,” he said.
“So if you have somebody now who is symptomatic, and in certain groups, the contact tracing will now happen in advance.
“Indeed, more than 30,200 people have already had their test results through the labs.”
On Tuesday, Ireland saw its highest total of deaths in a day since the start of the coronavirus crisis.
The deaths of 17 people – four women and 13 men – were confirmed by the Department of Health.