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'I know people are afraid... but we will not run out of tests', minister says amid reports of delays for Covid-19 test

“We’re trying to do in a number of days [what] would probably take months, if not years, to set up,” Regina Doherty explained.

RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy demonstrated what it was like to get tested for Covid-19 on last night's Late Late Show.
RTÉ presenter Ryan Tubridy demonstrated what it was like to get tested for Covid-19 on last night's Late Late Show.
Image: RTÉ's Late Late Show

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL Protection Regina Doherty has said that the country will not run out of coronavirus tests, and added that waiting times were a result of implementing a testing system that would normally take months to implement. 

A number of people have said that they have been waiting since Monday to get a test to see whether they have the new coronavirus Covid-19.

One man told TheJournal.ie he and his family have been waiting since Monday for a test, and another person indicated that their GP clinic hadn’t been given any confirmation of when tests for their patients would be held.

When asked if the increase in the volume of testing meant that they were running low on testing equipment, Regina Doherty said that new equipment had been ordered.

“We will not run out of tests,” Doherty told the RTÉ’s Saturday with Cormac Ó hEadhra programme. “What we’re planning to do is to… test and test and test.”

I do appreciate that there are people concerned that they’re waiting a long time for the test. But as soon as you’ve ordered your test, the advice of your doctor is to self isolation to protect you and your family. I would hope, and I do expect, that that’s what everybody is doing. 

A response from the HSE said that they are “aware that patients who were referred for a test earlier this week may still be waiting for a call back with a test date and location”.

This is a result of the large number of tests being ordered since the case definition changed last Friday.
We regret that people are waiting and we are asking people to bear with us as we continue to roll out community testing hubs.

A number of community testing facilities are being rolled out across the country: including Croke Park, and the LÉ Samuel Beckett. 

“We’re drastically increasing the number of places that you can now go and get a test – I think we’re up to 29 today and that’s only going to increase,” Doherty said.

“The people that are being drafted into do the tests are being recruited at the moment.

“Tests are being flown in by the tens of thousands every day.”

I know people are frustrated and are afraid, but the tests are being done and we’re ramping up as absolutely fast as we can.

“We’re trying to do in a number of days [what] would probably take months if not years to set up a system, and so everybody is working really hard to try and give the response to the medical crisis that we’re in.”

If you want to know what is involved in a coronavirus test, the advice from the HSE is here on both test centres and drive-thru test centres.

Advice for those who are waiting for a Covid-19 test

The HSE has advised that waiting for a test should not change how you manage your symptoms or interactions with other people.

If you are waiting on a test to see if you have Covid-19 or you have been tested and are waiting for the results – you need to stay home and self-isolate to prevent you spreading any potential infection to others.

If the virus for Covid-19 is not detected you should continue to self-isolate until 48 hours after you last had symptoms. This is because, while the virus for Covid-19 was not detected, you have symptoms of an infectious respiratory illness which you do not want to pass on to others.

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If the virus for Covid-19 is detected you must continue to self-isolate until a) 14 days have passed since you first developed symptoms and b) you have had no high temperature/fever for five days. 

Other equipment

Health Minister Simon Harris indicated on the Today with Sean O’Rourke programme on Thursday that 30,000 coronavirus testing kits were to be delivered that day, and that we could be testing up to 15,000 people daily.

Doherty said that HSE chief executive Paul Reid and his team, and have spent “a considerable amount of time in the last week, and very successfully have ordered thousands and thousands of testing kits”.

She said that they’ve also ordered new ventilators, and “massive volumes” of the personal protective equipment (also known as PPE).

She added: “They’ve obviously they have started to try to identify and book some beds available in the private sector that might be considered as an isolation unit if and when we ever need them.”

Of the 683 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland, 12 people have been admitted to an Intensive Care Unit, representing 8.6% of all cases hospitalised. 29% of those in hospital are aged 65 or over. 

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