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Positivity rate for close contacts ‘over four times higher’ – HSE CEO

The HSE CEO has urged close contacts of confirmed cases to come forward for Covid-19 testing, noting a substantially higher test positivity rate.

Since 19 May the HSE had been organising testing of all close contacts of confirmed cases, whether they were experiencing symptoms or not, a HSE press conference heard this morning.  

CEO Mr Paul Reid said if members of the public are contacted and informed they are a close contact, “it is really key” they undertake testing.

“We will have made an appointment and they don’t need to go through their GP to schedule an appointment…,” he added.

Mr Reid said over the last week, the HSE had tested 322 close contacts and 24 of these individuals were positive for Covid-19. He said this gave a positivity rate of 7.2 per cent, which “clearly demonstrates” that the chances of being positive are over four times higher than being a non-contact (current positivity rate of 1.7 per cent).

Of the 24 positive cases, 87 per cent were asymptomatic, Mr Reid noted.

Meanwhile, Mr Reid said there had been over 350,000 Covid-19 tests completed nationally to date. There had been “significant improvements” to turnaround times but “we still have to manage some difficult outliers”

In the last seven days there was a median end-to-end turnaround (point of referral to contact tracing completed) of two days, which was an improvement on 2.3 days in the previous week.

The turnaround time in the community was 2.3 days and 1.7 days in hospitals, according to Mr Reid.

“You will see we had set out a target of 90 per cent to be delivered within three days. We are currently at 82 per cent within three days. So not at the 90 per cent we want to be at; there are still some outliers that pull us back…”

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