Fergus O’Dowd says it may be necessary for Gardai to call to people’s homes in order to urge them to undertake a Covid-19 test if they have been found to have been in contact with someone who tested positive.
The Fine Gael TD was speaking during today’s session of the Special Committee on Covid-19 at Leinster House where he told Deputies and officials present that 1,314 people nationwide who have been found to have had direct contact with a person who has a confirmed case of the virus.
The Drogheda-based Deputy said that was a “huge figure” and suggested Gardai could be sent to people’s homes to press home the need for undertaking a test. “I think it is a huge figure and you need to do more work on it,” he said.
“You know who these people are. It is not a question that they are unknown. They are known people and you have their home addresses. I think they [the Gardai] should call and tell them that in the public health interest they should turn up for a test.”
Any person who is found to have had contact with a person with Covid-19 is not bound by law to have a test. Gardai have no power to force a test upon a person. The HSE recommends testing close contacts of confirmed cases, regardless of whether they are displaying symptoms.
Deputy O’Dowd said that not turning up for a test creates risk for others in the community. “That’s very serious because you could theoretically have it and give it to many, many more people.”
Also speaking during the Special Committee sitting, the HSE’s National Clinical Director for Health Protection Lorraine Doherty said people were becoming disengaged with the process , suggesting they would rather not have a test if it meant they may face a period of self-isolation.
“It shows that the public are becoming disengaged with the idea of having a Covid-19 test if they are symptomatic or if they are a contact because they understand the implications of having a test and that they would need to restrict their movements.”
She said that the contact tracing teams make “at least four or five” attempts to contact people who need to undergo a test.