Covid-19 testing must be ramped up before any restrictions lifted, expert says


Immunology expert, Professor Kingston Mills has cautioned that testing for Covid-19 needs to be “ramped up” before any restrictions can be lifted.

“The lock-in is working, it is restricting the spread of the virus,” he told Newstalk Breakfast.

However, he warned that testing needs to be at the highest level.

“Hopefully by May 4 transmission rates, the number of deaths and ICU admissions will have gone down.

“That’s the aspiration, they’re the real values, the case number I wouldn’t read too much into, some of them are old data coming from the testing in Germany, the thing is they’re missing a huge number.

“They have other laboratories coming on board to help with it,” he added.

“Test every individual in contact with anyone tested positive, otherwise you’re allowing people to escape the net, who may not have symptoms and can spread the virus.

“The laboratories have been overrun, hospitals are now doing testing, I think there’s a commercial company going to come on board to dramatically increase the testing.”

Easing back into “normality” will be a slow process, but it cannot be considered unless there has been widespread testing, he said.

When the current restrictions are eased, the Chief Medical Officer says it is “concievable” that people may be asked to wear masks.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) say the equipment could lead to complacency and lowers the emphasis on washing hands and social distancing.

Dr Tony Holohan says every piece of advice could change but currently masks are not necessary:

“We might have certain measures around use of masks or PPE or other kinds of things as part of how we learn to live in a situation whereby we are releasing some measures because we think it is important to do so but we want to minimise the risk of transmission of infection having done that.”

Additional reporting by Digital Desk

    Useful information

  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people – this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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