'Full and frank’ update on Covid-19 testing needed as HSE appoints new lead

Calls have been made for a "full and frank" update on Covid-19 testing following confirmation that the HSE has appointed a new lead to oversee its testing strategy and turn test results around in a 48-hour period.
'Full and frank’ update on Covid-19 testing needed as HSE appoints new lead

Calls have been made for a "full and frank" update on Covid-19 testing following confirmation that the HSE has appointed a new lead to oversee its testing strategy and turn test results around in a 48-hour period.

The appointment was confirmed at a briefing between political party leaders and senior HSE officials on Thursday and follows concerns that some individuals are waiting more than two to three weeks for test results.

More than 260 people have died in Ireland due to Covid-19, with the number of cases exceeding 6,500 this week.

Co-leader of the Social Democrats Deputy Catherine Murphy welcomed the HSE appointment but said a “full and frank” update was needed to allay growing public concern and frustration.

“It is reassuring that someone senior is being given the lead and with the aim of getting to a 48 hour turnaround,” Ms Murphy told the Irish Examiner.

“Public confidence will be undermined if there is a feeling that the numbers are being spun. I’d rather be told that we can’t test anymore today because we can’t process the tests,” she added.

The Kildare TD urged HSE chief executive Paul Reid to provide clarity on the testing strategy: “It would be very helpful if he came out and gave a full and frank outline of how he sees this going and where the figures are and how we’ll get to a 48-hour turnaround”.

The new Covid-19 testing appointment comes as the government is expected to extend current restrictions on movement and travel beyond the Easter weekend.

Chairman of the HSE’’s expert advisory group on Covid-19, Dr Cillian De Gascun, has said "real-time" testing and contact tracing systems would be needed before restrictions could be relaxed.

Meanwhile the number of deaths from Covid-19 is on course to exceed 100,000 across the world, with more than 1.6 million people infected by the virus globally.

It is a month since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on March 11, when 120,000 cases and fewer than 5,000 deaths were recorded around the world.

Since then the number of cases globally has increased 13-fold as the virus spread to every corner of the world.

The disease has been contained in China and South Korea following an aggressive response, involving mass testing and quarantining, rapid contact tracing, and drastic lockdown measures.

The number of deaths in Italy, Spain, France, UK, US, and Iran, has now exceeded the death toll observed in China where the outbreak first began.

Italy has been hardest hit in terms of Covid-19 fatalities, having the highest mortality rate at 13% of all cases, amounting to more than 18,000 deaths.

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