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Eamon Ryan has said he took a second Covid-19 test because the first was 'inconclusive'

A spokesperson said that the HSE had recommended a second test and that has returned a negative result.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

TRANSPORT MINISTER EAMON Ryan has said that the results of a Covid-19 test he took on Saturday were “inconclusive” after the result was initially reported positive.

The clarification comes after some have questioned why Ryan was able to take a second test on Sunday, testing negative this time, which allowed him to travel to COP26 as planned. 

“It’s my understanding, and I think they’ve said, it’s also standard in those circumstances, to have a second test,” Ryan said, adding that this happens particularly if the person shows no symptoms.  

Asked for his response to the suggestion that there is one rule for ordinary people and another for ministers, Ryan said: “I’m very conscious of that, but to a certain extent the only thing I could do was follow the advice … from the HSE.”

He added that had he disregarded the second, negative, result and isolated anyway, it could have undermined the testing system. 

A spokesperson said that the HSE had recommended a second test and that has returned a negative result.

“The public health advice in this instance is that the case is de-notified, close contacts are informed and the person can continue about their business. Minister Ryan now plans to travel to Glasgow for COP26 tomorrow.

“Minister Ryan has not been symptomatic at any point. He underwent the initial test as a precautionary measure as recommended by the organisers of COP26. On receipt of the initial result he followed all HSE protocols, including self-isolation and informing close contacts.

“Minister Ryan has updated the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the secretary to the Government with this information,” the spokesperson said. 

A statement from the HSE on the matter said: 

“In certain instances, where clinically indicated, a repeat test may be recommended for an individual. This is typically based on a discussion between the testing laboratory and the person requesting the test, and takes into account a number of factors, such as the laboratory result itself, including viral targets detected etc., the reason for the test, and the condition of the person having the test performed.

“In these cases a repeat test may be scheduled through the HSE Testing and Trace programme and a review of the results will inform the public health guidance.

Clarity 

However, a number of TDs have called for more transparency around re-testing.

Labour has asked for clarity on the matter, with the party health spokesperson Duncan Smith seeking further information from the Department of Health in relation to the matter. 

Smith has asked the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to make a statement on how many times the HSE has conducted a double Covid-19 test on an individual when the first test result was positive and what are the clinical grounds for a second test taking place.

He has also asked the minister how many instances of a case de-notification has taken place since March 2020 for cases which were examined against “viral targets detected, the reason for the test and the condition of the person having the test performed” as criteria set out by the HSE.

And he further called on the minister to explain what viral target measures are used when examining whether a positive Covid-19 test requires a second Covid-19 test, as well as how many times a member of Cabinet has made direct contact with a Covid-19 test laboratory to discuss their test results.

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Sinn Féin TDs have also queried the series of events, with the party’s spokesperson on agriculture Matt Carthy taking to Twitter to state that it “smacks as another example of rules being changed to suit ministers”.

“I’m glad second test indicated that Eamon Ryan is Covid negative, but if there is to be public confidence in testing regime then the full details of why his first test was questioned need to be clarified,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson David Cullinane also questioned how the minister managed to get a second test. 

He asked on Twitter: “How does a person have a discussion with the lab? Surely it is with the contact tracer.”

Cullinane said such advice from the HSE does not appear on their website “or at least I can’t find it. It does reference indeterminate or invalid result but only if Covid was not detected”.

The Social Democrats said it will be focused on Cop26 and the commitments being made rather than Eamon Ryan.

With additional reporting by Zuzia Whelan 

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