Best way to beat Covid-19 is 'get tested immediately,' says Dr Ronan Glynn

Best way to beat Covid-19 is 'get tested immediately,' says Dr Ronan Glynn
Medical staff member in PPE at a pop up Covid-19 testing centre at Keadeen Hotel in Newbridge, Co Kildare, following the spate of outbreaks in Kildare.

The acting chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn has said that what is “more important than anything” in the fight against Covid-19 is that if someone has symptoms of the virus that they “come forward immediately and get a test”.

“That is how we will control the disease,” he said.

Speaking before the Oireachtas special committee on the virus, Dr Glynn said that schoolchildren who test negative for the virus and who are 48 hours free of symptoms “should be able to return to school”.

The committee was hearing from the acting CMO and the chair of the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG) Professor Philip Nolan.

Dr Glynn said that less than 3% of children under the age of 14 in the country have contracted the virus. He said that social distancing among young children is “impracticable”, adding that older children up through primary school and into second level “should be maintaining a distance of one metre from each other”.

In terms of people avoiding testing due to economic constraints or fear of losing a job, he said that it must be ensured that “people who need a test don’t have any fear about their work, that they are compensated for 14 days, and that economic factors have no bearing on the fight against the disease”.

The committee heard from a number of TDs from Kildare, which is currently enduring its third period of lockdown. Fianna Fáil’s James Lawless said that he wants to know why the county is still in lockdown, adding that electoral district level data would be made available on a daily basis.

“People need this data today. Can it be made available immediately as it would drive support for the measures.” In response, Dr Glynn said that the dashboard would be refreshed later this week.

He acknowledged that the Kildare lockdown had been far from perfect.

“The county boundary is crude, but we had to take some crude measures,” he said. “At times you have to move fast at the enemy at the expense of precision.”

Fine Gael’s Bernard Durkan meanwhile asked if “any lessons” had been learned from the localised lockdowns. Professor Nolan replied in the affirmative.

“The Kildare Laois Offaly outbreaks show that if you move quickly you can contain the virus,” he said.

“The last few weeks have shown us that the systems are in place. The system stood up extremely well to a very large challenge,” he added.

Meanwhile, the crisis in nursing homes which saw nearly 1,000 residents lose their lives during the early stages of the pandemic “may well end up with” a full public inquiry being commissioned, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said.

Nearly 600,000 people have deleted the Covid tracker app. Picture: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie
Nearly 600,000 people have deleted the Covid tracker app. Picture: Leah Farrell/Rollingnews.ie

Speaking later to the committee under questioning from People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny, the minister said that “consideration needs to be given” as to what the best approach would be.

In terms of testing and tracing Mr Donnelly said that 150 people would be working on contact tracing, redeployed from elsewhere in the health service, by the end of the week — up from just 30 at the beginning of the virus surge in Co Kildare.

He denied that the fact that nearly 600,000 people have deleted the Covid Tracker app  — as revealed by the Irish Examiner — from their phones indicates a “loss of confidence” in the app.

“The app is providing valuable information and it’s saving lives,” he said.

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