HSE to begin ‘surveillance project’ to identify sources of community transmission

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Digital Desk staff

The HSE is set to begin a new "surveillance project" which will attempt to track down the source of infection for Covid-19 cases labelled as “community transmission”.

Cases are designated as “community transmission” when the person is not a close contact of another confirmed case of the disease and it is unclear where they first came into contact with the virus.

At the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response today, the HSE confirmed it will now question people diagnosed with Covid-19 about their movements in the 14 days before they developed symptoms.

Currently, contact tracers ask people who have tested positive for the virus about their movements only up to the 48 hours before they first felt unwell.

John Cuddihy, director of the Health Protection Surveillance Centre, said a questionnaire is being prepared to source this new information.

“It goes into detail of the various different places and people that the case may have interacted with, and it also includes a diary that we take them through for the previous 14 days,” he said.

Capacity

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It comes as the HSE has said extra testing capacity for Covid-19 will be needed if the number of cases in the country keeps rising as it currently is.

Current capacity is capped at 100,000 tests per week, with the highest number completed in one week so far standing at 90,000.

HSE chief Paul Reid cautioned that testing is not a "coat of armour" for society when it comes to tackling the virus as he told the Oireachtas Covid-19 committee that more capacity will be built up if needed.

“If we keep running the way the virus is running at the minute, we will need some more test capacity in our labs,” he said.

“That’s a process that we’re currently looking at and engaging on, and we will increase that capacity in our labs should that the virus continue to perform the way it is.”

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