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A testing centre on Sir John Rogerson's Quay in Dublin. Leah Farrell/

GPs say broader Covid-19 testing criteria shouldn't 'overwhelm' system

The testing criteria for Covid-19 has been widened.

THE BROADENING OF testing criteria for Covid-19 has raised questions about whether Ireland could once again face a major backlog. 

The criteria provided to GPs has now been expanded so that people only need to have a new cough, fever or shortness of breath in order to be eligible for a coronavirus test. 

Officials have already acknowledged that the broader definition will lead to an increased demand on the testing system. 

Last night, Dr Cillian de Gascun, director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory at UCD, said that health officials were conscious that they “got caught” with delays the last time there was a broad definition in place and capacity at a German laboratory will continue to be used to help ease the burden. 

Over the past week, 61,707 tests were carried out by the HSE, while 214,761 people have been tested for Covid-19 since testing began.

At the start of the pandemic, there were considerable concerns about the length of time people were waiting for test results. 

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Dr Mary Favier, the President of the Irish College of General Practitioners, said that she was confident the system could cope with increased demand. 

“The amount of flu-like or influenza-like illnesses circulating in the community has dropped dramatically by about fifteen-fold. So the likelihood now is that there would be a lot less people looking for tests,” she said.

“There isn’t an expectation that it will overwhelm testing.”

“It’s more important that we know the amount of Covid-19 in the community,” she added. 

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