Pressure on testing service amid unexpected levels of testing, says HSE

All possible measures have been taken to help the health service deal with unexpected levels of Covid testing in the current wave, the HSE Testing and Tracing team said.

“We’re clearly on a wave at the moment,» Damien McCalleon told RTÉ Radio Morning Ireland. Mr. McCalleon said that in the past «six to seven weeks», more than a million PCR tests have been performed.

He said the pressure on the testing system is coming from clinical referrals and close contacts.

«We still get the same day, the next day – it’s the first priority for testing. It’s the swab where the stress is. The labs are working fine – our contact tracing is under pressure but it’s working fine – it’s the access point where the challenge is.»

Mr. McCalleon said availability of tests varies across the country. The current wave of the virus has been stressing all parts of the health system, “not just in testing, but in the ICU, hospitals, general practices, etc. This obviously creates challenges for us at the moment.»

«In the past seven days, we’ve run over 200,000 PCR lab tests — to give it context, in the last six to seven weeks, nearly a million people have had PCR tests, when you consider our population these are huge numbers.»

“We have continued to recruit through this, and it has never stopped. We have identified actions with the private sector that have helped build capabilities.

“But ultimately when you’re in a wave like we are right now, where demand is so important across the healthcare system, there’s always going to be resource constraints — whether it’s ICU, GP, testing — so right now We’re reaching levels none of us thought we’d reach – consider 100,000 as the gold standard – doing 200,000 per week.»

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