Republic of Ireland news

Only one in 10 coronavirus cases picked up in Republic, expert says

Professor Paul Moynagh said officials need to ramp up the level of testing before considering lifting any of the current restrictions
Cate McCurry, Press Association

A professor of immunology has raised concerns that Ireland's scale of testing for Covid-19 is picking up only one in 10 cases.

Paul Moynagh said officials need to ramp up the level of testing before considering lifting any of the current restrictions.

He told RTE's Morning Ireland: "In terms of community testing, if we're picking up very few cases, the primary role they're testing at the moment is for disease surveillance rather than being actively used to identify and suppress transmission.

READ MORE: Covid-19 death toll passes more than 1,000 across Ireland

"I think we need to address that and in fact, if you look at the WHO (World Health Organisation), they have indicated six conditions that a country must meet before considering lifting restrictions.

"At the top of them very much related to testing, and being able to test and trace every positive case and identify every contact.

"I don't think we are anywhere near that situation.

"Then being able to control the hotspots of infections, such as nursing homes and obviously that's a key challenge at the moment."

Only one in 10 coronavirus cases are being picked up in the Republic

Prof Moynagh said the Department of Health needs to increase the amount and speed of testing.

He added: "We tend to be quite reactive because we've moved to a situation of testing nursing homes, which I think's absolutely the right thing to do, but that needs to be done at a scale where all residents and all workers can be tested.

"That probably needs to be done on a regular basis.

"That will essentially soak up most of the testing capacity, and then we reduce the level of testing we can do at community level.

"That is a concern of mine. I think we really need to look at testing in a very serious way, and begin to come up with a strategy, a road map and action plan in terms of where we're going with testing.

"If we're only picking up one in 10 cases, if we're going to use testing as an active way to suppress transmission, then we definitely need that in order to lift restrictions.

"The best defence we have against limiting transmission of this virus is isolation and as we move, inevitably, to lifting some of the restrictions, we need something there to help us in terms of suppressing that transmission."

On Wednesday, the Department of Health confirmed a further 49 Covid-19-related deaths, taking the total since the outbreak began to 769.

An additional 113 deaths are suspected to have links to coronavirus, the Department of Health has said.

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Republic of Ireland news