Covid-19: Extension of testing criteria will help find infection sooner

Covid-19: Extension of testing criteria will help find infection sooner

33 more Covid-19 patients have died, bringing the death toll in the Republic to 320.

A total 8,928 people have been infected since the pandemic reached Ireland, which includes an extra 286 cases reported by a lab in Germany.

It has already killed over 100,000 people worldwide and infected 1.7 million.

Health Minister Simon Harris says after the German lab has cleared a backlog of up to 15,000 tests, the next step will be to extend the testing criteria.

Dr Mary Favier, President of the Irish College of General Practitioners, says that will help find infection sooner.

"At the moment the definitions are quite restrict, they are to do with fever and very particular symptoms and then if you're in a risk group where there is a healthcare worker or someone is a close contact of somebody who has tested positive," said Dr Favier.

"The idea that it might ease it out a little further. The thinking behind that is that they are really trying to capture all of the possible cases that exist and then follow those up as quickly as possible."

Yesterday, Minister Harris said he hoped the backlog in testing would be cleared by the end of next week.

He said between 25,000 and 30,000 tests had been sent to Germany, with more than half of the tests returned and the remainder due back this week.

Mr Harris also said Ireland has more testing capacity than most other EU countries.

He said testing per head of population is the 5th highest in the EU.

People are being reminded not to visit family and friends for Easter Sunday and to comply with the 2km restrictions if they are going out for walks.

Gardaí are making sure people comply with the Covid-19 travel restrictions with checkpoints set up in towns and cities all over the country.

It is part of Operation Fanacht, launched on Wednesday to ensure public compliance with the restrictions.

At any one time, there will be more than 2,500 gardaí involved in checkpoints or high visibility patrolling.

However, while new Garda powers allow them issue fines for people who breach movement restrictions, enforcement will only be used as a last resort.

The operation will run until Monday night, and will involve thousands of checkpoints every day.

Those who wish to attend Easter Sunday can do by watching on tv or online as Bishop of Kilaloe, in Ennis Co Clare, Fintan Monahan, says the Catholic Church will use technology to stream masses today.

"The number of webcams has literally mushroomed around the various different parishes so many of the parishes will be live streaming the various different sacraments especially the ceremonies for today, Easter Sunday."

People can also listen to mass on the radio.

    The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:
  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing

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