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HSE bosses confident of three-day turnaround on testing in 90% of positive cases by Monday

HSE CEO Paul Reid was speaking at a briefing on Covid-19 testing and contact tracing at UCD this morning.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid speaking at this morning's briefing
HSE chief executive Paul Reid speaking at this morning's briefing
Image: Leon Farrell via RollingNews.ie

THE HSE AIMS to have a 90% end-to-end turnaround time of three days on testing and contact tracing for Covid-19 positive cases by Monday, chief executive Paul Reid has said.

Reid was speaking at a HSE media briefing regarding Covid-19 testing and contact tracing at UCD this morning. 

He confirmed that more than 270,000 coronavirus tests have been carried out across Ireland. 

Reid acknowledged that the HSE has had “significant” challenges in the testing process, including supplies of swabs and personal protective equipment (PPE). 

On Tuesday, it was reported that the median wait time between a swab being taken and contact tracing in a positive test result commencing was currently five days.

Contact tracing involves contacting anyone who met a Covid-positive patient – once their result is confirmed – and ensuring they self-isolate in order the limit the spread of the virus.

This should begin as soon as possible after a confirmed diagnosis, with five days being generally accepted as being too long a period.

Contributing to the delays are human errors of data collection and transcription, public health and hospital IT systems which cannot interact effectively, a lack of standardisation across departments involved in contact tracing and individual circumstances creating more complex cases.

Speaking this morning, Reid said the HSE aims to have a 90% end-to-end turnaround time of three days on testing being carried out and contact tracing being completed for Covid-19 positive cases by Monday, 18 May.

He said the HSE aims to complete 15,000 swab tests per day by Monday and that the aim is to get swab to test results down to two days. 

The HSE has now met the target of completing 12,000 swab tests within the community, Reid said. 

“We are ahead of the laboratory tests to deliver 12,000 and we have the ability to deliver over 15,000 tests,” he said.

“We set a target between two to three days for a swab to be completed, which has been met.

“There are two key aspects on how we improve capacity and turnaround times to deliver 100,000 tests a week.”

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Challenges

Speaking of the challenges faced in the testing process to date, Reid said: “We faced significant backlogs which resulted in a poor experience for a lot of people.

“We have been rightly judged in that. I have never seen so much change happening so quickly, however we need to improve where we are at.”

Reid said a new model is needed for testing in the future.

“It is a process that will take time and we hope to have it completed in the autumn,” he added.

“On the government’s road map and the five criteria, we are monitoring the disease and the capacity of the health system, contact tracing and how we are managing vulnerable groups.”

With reporting by Cónal Thomas 

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