Slow testing turnaround times will impede recovery pathway – Donnelly

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly has received new information which shows the median turnaround testing times for COVID-19 is currently five days. This is much longer than the initial target of three days, and longer still than what many believe should be no more than one or two days.

Deputy Donnelly said the information he received, at a health briefing for opposition members, is in sharp contrast to numerous statements on how crucial rapid testing is for the opening up of our society and economy. 

He explained, “The median actually gives a better indication of the situation. We know there are some people being tested and getting results in one or two days but on the other hand we know it’s taking ten days or more in many other cases.

“Last week I put it to Minister Harris that the three-day target initially set out was not ambitious enough. Public health advice has repeatedly been that the opening up of society and the economy depends in part on our ability to rapidly test, isolate and trace.

“We have been told turnaround times were being worked on, that they were getting better and that they would be key to the recovery pathway. Yet today the HSE confirmed that their median time for referral to getting a test result is five days – it’s hugely underwhelming.

“For anyone running a business, a hospital or a nursing home for instance this means infected staff, patients or residents could have been in close contact with others for days, and possibly weeks, before being identified. It is particularly frustrating when it’s clear that we now have lab capacity and teams of contact tracers who aren’t being used.

“I appreciate there are people are working around the clock on this but it’s very disappointing to hear that it’s still taking so long. Government needs to provide leadership on this issue, and deploy whatever resources are needed to get the testing times much lower – the continued confidence and good will of the public depends on this,” concluded Deputy Donnelly.

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