Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that the government must ensure they can keep any new commitments they make regarding Covid-19 testing.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“It is being reported today that the government and the National Public Health Emergency Team are looking at possibly changing the case definition for testing for Covid-19 and increasing testing capacity.
“If this is to be the case, then it is a welcome move that the rigidity of the testing criteria will be reversed.
“The changes to testing criteria introduced last month meant that thousands of people who were previously scheduled for a test were told they would now not be tested; it also meant that people who developed some Covid-19 symptoms were not tested unless they fitted into narrow criteria.
“The World Health Organisation have been clear in their advice that States must ‘test, test, test’.
“Indeed, yesterday Professor Paul Moynagh, Professor of Immunology and head of the Kathleen Lonsdale Institute for Human Health at Maynooth University said that we could be only picking up one in ten cases of Covid-19.
“Professor Moynagh said that we need to move from testing just for disease surveillance to actively testing in the community so we can identify the total spread and transmission of the disease.
“We need to test as many people as possible to uncover all positive cases. This means we have to have capacity to test and also capacity to identify and contact trace every person who has interacted with a positive case.
“If we do not take this approach then we will not be in a position to lift restrictions any time soon.
“For this to be achieved we need to ensure capacity is in place to test significant numbers as quickly as possible.
“Whether the government have that capacity in place is a matter for debate considering they have consistently failed to reach the testing targets they have set for themselves.
“If the government are going to change the testing criteria that is to be welcomed, but they need to ensure they can keep the commitments they make to the public regarding Covid-19.”