Children who came into close contact with a confirmed case of the coronavirus at a summer camp run by Ireland’s lead sporting authority were not contacted by the HSE regarding the issue for nine days, it has emerged.
Sport Ireland, the State authority charged with the development of sport in Ireland, has been running childrens’ summer camps at the National Aquatic Centre campus in Blanchardstown, Dublin, where SI itself is headquartered, since June 29th.
At one such camp on Friday, 14 August, a nine-year-old boy participating apparently came into close contact with a case of the virus.
However, he heard nothing about the contact until nine days later on August 23 when his mother received an automated text message stating that the contact had occurred and that he had been referred for a Covid-19 test.
That text instructed the boy to restrict his movements for at least another five days as symptoms could still develop regardless of the test result.
That result has yet to be received despite two days having elapsed since it was carried out.
“It was all very well organised,” the boy’s father told the Irish Examiner. “It’s just that it took nine days before we received the text.” He said: “All the kids were in pods, with everyone to be dropped off at a specific area and then picked up at another specific area. We had another child present but in a separate pod, and they have received no text.” “It just seems to fly in the face of what the HSE have been telling us on testing and tracing,” he added.
It’s unknown who the confirmed case was, nor how many of the children present were affected by the contact.
Sport Ireland said that while testing is “solely a matter for the HSE”, it had “provided contact information to the HSE without delay on the same day that Sport Ireland Facilities DAC was notified that a person had been confirmed as testing positive for COVID-19, in order to facilitate the HSE contact tracing procedures”.
In a statement It said that “in the region of 240 children” participated in the camps daily prior to the introduction of heightened restrictions last week, in 12 groups of 20.
It said that “there has been no suggestion that the individual contracted Covid-19 while on the Sport Ireland Campus”.
“Sport Ireland Facilities DAC can confirm that all relevant protocols and HSE guidelines were followed for the duration of all summer camps.” The HSE had not replied to a request for comment on the matter at the time of publication.
It’s broadly understood that three days at a maximum from test referral to completion of contact tracing is the threshold for a track and trace system to be effective.
With the recent spike in virus cases the HSE had admitted that the average turnaround time had jumped to 3.8 days. However, chief executive Paul Reid last week said that the average time had been reduced to 2.3 days as the system scaled up.