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High volumes at Covid testings centres amid ransomware disruption

People who are symptomatic are being advised to go to any community testing centre.

People who require a test do not need to wait for a text with appointment slots, they can go directly to a testing centre.
People who require a test do not need to wait for a text with appointment slots, they can go directly to a testing centre.
Image: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

COVID TESTING CENTRES are continuing to take high volumes of swabs despite disruption to the system by the HSE ransomware attack last Friday.

The HSE was forced to shut down its systems on Friday due to the attack, including the GP and close contact referral systems.

People who are symptomatic and their close contacts can no longer receive appointment slots for tests, so GPs are being advised to send patients who are symptomatic to any community test centre.

People who have symptoms of Covid-19 can attend any community test centre without phoning their GP.

Contact tracing teams are also sending close contacts to testing centres. People can turn up at any stage during the centre’s opening hours for a test – they do not need a set appointment.

A full list of community test centres can be found here.

Health sources have said testing centres are still taking high volumes of swabs, with 11,000 taken at community testing centres yesterday.

In addition, up to 6,000 swabs were taken yesterday in acute and private hospitals and around 2,000 swabs were taken as part of the serial testing programme.

Sources have said some sites are particularly busy since community testing centres were all opened up as walk-in centres, but that staff have been flexible and are coping well. Today an additional walk-in site in Drogheda opened up.

It is understood there have been no delays in providing test results by text from laboratories or in contact tracing. However people who are waiting for their tests results are advised to self-isolate (stay in your room) until they get a result. 

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Contact tracing teams are continuing to gather full patient data and are conducting source investigation, as well as check-in calls to ensure people understand the public health advice for their isolation period. 

Data relating to the number of deaths due to Covid-19, as well as case numbers by county, have also been affected by last week’s cyber attack. Death figures are not being reported due to the system disruption but the Department of Health will continue to provide details of daily case numbers. 

“Daily positive swab results are currently being reported from laboratories to the HSE’s contact management programme while systems are down,” a spokesperson for the Department of Health said yesterday.

“The Health Protection Surveillance Centre are then reporting daily cases to the Department based on those daily positive lab results.

“Validation of these results will commence once systems back up and running.”

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