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Covid-19 close contacts no longer advised to get tested but still told to restrict movements

It is still “imperative” for close contacts to restrict movements and contact a GP if symptoms develop.
Dec 31st 2020, 5:11 PM 86,434 130

CLOSE CONTACTS OF confirmed cases of Covid-19 are no longer being advised to get tested for the coronavirus due to current widespread levels of infection, the HSE has said. 

This is described as a “temporary measure” and close contacts are still advised to restrict movements for 14 days. 

“This step is being taken to ensure that those who are symptomatic are prioritised and receive a test as quickly as possible,” a statement from the HSE said. 

Prior to this, close contacts of confirmed cases received a Covid-19 test five or six days after the day they were last in contact with the positive case.  

The Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan said this change was made to “support the testing system through this surge”. 

Yesterday, the HSE processed over 26,000 swabs. More than 2,300 calls were made to people who tested positive for Covid-19 and nearly 11,000 calls were made to close contacts.  

“Testing and tracing is an exercise in containment and we are no longer in a containment phase,” Holohan said. 

However, he stressed that it is “imperative” for close contacts to restrict movements and contact a GP if they develop symptoms. 

“The average number of contacts per case has risen from 2.5 in November to an average in recent days of 6.3.

This is very far from where we need to be and I am appealing to everyone at every age to adhere to the mandated restrictions that the government has introduced – stay at home, except for essential reasons, other than for exercise up to 5km. 

Speaking at a media briefing this evening, Holohan said the level of transmission in Ireland at the moment means we “have to regard each one of us as a close contact”. 

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He said actions must currently focus on “driving these high level of community transmission out as fast as possible”.  

The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry said: “If you show any symptoms please call your GP or GP Out of Hours service immediately and they will refer you for a test if required.

“We know that GPs and GP Out of Hours services are very busy, and we ask for everyone’s patience as we all work through this challenging time.” 

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Orla Dwyer

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