News & Media

Answers needed on failing tracing system

21 October 2020

Statement by Alan Kelly TD
Party Leader and Spokesperson on Health and Disability Services
AlanK
  • Government needs to address why the tracing system has not been properly resourced

Answers are needed on the failing tracing system according to Labour Leader Alan Kelly who was speaking at Leaders Questions after it was revealed in the Irish Times that thousands of close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases from over a three day period will not be contacted by the HSE because the contact tracing system was overwhelmed by cases last weekend.

Deputy Kelly said:

“It is simply unacceptable to have find out via the Irish Times that it is taking 4.1 days to contact trace someone in the community. I accept that there are pressures in the system, but this is ridiculous.

“Imagine a member of the public finding out today that someone they know was diagnosed with Covid-19 a number of days ago and they were exposed to the virus and someone at home has an underlying condition or they work in a nursing home or a hospital. This is incredibly worrying for people. Five days were lost and people out there do not know or may not ever know whether they were exposed to this virus.

“When there were issues previously, the former Minister brought in the army. We had an opportunity to address this and I think the effectiveness of the tracing system is in serious doubt.

“The Taoiseach keeps referring to the turn around time for tracing as being 2.2 days but that is not the case in the community where it takes 4.1 days, the quick turnaround happens in HSE settings such as acute hospitals.

 “The public cannot comprehend why the tracing system was not properly resourced. There are hundreds of thousands of competent people out there who could have been brought in to carry out contact tracing, retired public servants, people who have been made unemployed and people who could have been seconded from different organisations.

Deputy Kelly continued:

“Only for the work of two journalists in the Irish Times, the public would not have been informed of the effective collapse of our tracing system. This is simply unacceptable, and the Government need to address why the tracing system has not been properly resourced.