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Median turnaround time for Covid-19 tests and contact tracing now 2.83 days

Contact tracing centres operated by Revenue and the Army band commenced work over the weekend

THE MEDIAN TURNAROUND time from referral for a Covid-19 test to the completion of contact tracing is now 2.83 days, the HSE has said.

This compares to a median turnaround time of 1.8 days around this time last month. 

Due to the increased demand for testing over the last two weeks, the HSE has stood up additional contact tracing centres, with UCD starting its operation on 9 August.

Over the weekend, centres in Limerick and Dublin operated by Revenue commenced contact tracing work and the Army band started on 15 August. 

More than 800 contact tracing calls were made on Sunday alone. 

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Monaghan GP Illona Duffy told that a positive result for one of her patients came back Friday evening and yesterday she was still waiting for a call about contact tracing. 

“She didn’t get a call from public health to let her know about her positive test until Saturday, I had checked our results Friday evening and when I saw it was positive I called her to let her know. 

“For nobody to be in touch about contact tracing three days after the result means those who were in close contact with her weren’t aware of their need to isolate or get a test.”

Duffy said the system works well in many cases, but after months in operation it should be “seamless”.

“I don’t understand why we don’t have our act together in relation to contact tracing and the communication of results at this stage, there’s no excuse.”

She said even one positive case with delayed contact tracing can impact on the spread of the disease in the community. 

The HSE said it cannot comment on individual cases for confidentiality reasons but denied there is any backlog in the contact tracing process. 

However, it said the increase in the number of close contacts of a confirmed case “does mean the closure of cases inevitably takes longer”.

For the seven days up to 16 August, the median end-to-end turnaround time for community and hospital tests from referral to the completion of contact tracing was 2.83 days. 

The HSE said it will continue to add capacity to the contact tracing capacity to meet projected demand.

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