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Covid-19 test and trace timeframes worryingly slow for safe lockdown exit – Louise O’Reilly TD

14 June, 2020

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Louise O’Reilly TD, has warned that quick and efficient testing and tracing are still key in the battle against Covid-19. 

Her comments follow the release of data from the Health Service Executive which revealed that testing is taking 1.2 days on average to be completed, while contact tracing is taking a further 2.4 days on average. 

Teachta O’Reilly said: “It is important to remember that the exit from lockdown still contains risks to be surmounted.  

“The latest data from the Health Service Executive (HSE) shows that the average number of close contacts per confirmed case of Covid-19 has risen. 

“The data has also shown that testing and tracing times are still not as quick as we need them to be. The HSE has stated that testing is taking an average 1.2 days and tracing of contacts is taking an additional 2.4 days. 

“The evidence states that together testing and tracing has to be done within at least 72 hours – that is the total timeframe from the moment a patient calls their GP for a test, to the quarantining of all contacts. 

“Many experts have been very clear in stating that testing and tracing didn’t necessarily have to be perfect under lockdown, however, the process does need to be perfect as we exit lockdown.  

“If we are too slow with testing and tracing as we leave lockdown, then it will put all the hard work and the benefits of the lockdown in danger. 

“We need to have a testing and tracing system that is fast enough to help with rapid isolation and not just identification. 

“If we can do that then testing and tracing can be used to prevent and supress outbreaks, as has been done in South Korea and other South East Asian countries.  

“Unfortunately, if our system is working at 1.2 days for testing and 2.4 days for tracing, then we are falling far short of the speed necessary as we exit lockdown. 

“Testing and tracing is still key in the battle against Covid-19, and we need to get the timeframe for both below 72 hours so we can leave lockdown behind us and push on with getting society and the economy reopened safely.”

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