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'The work of public health doctors cannot be replaced with a text'

Professor Pat Wall says the HSE should have seen the breakdown of the contact tracing system coming, writes Maeve Sheehan

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Prof Pat Wall, who helps to run the Covid-19 contact tracing centre at UCD Science Centre. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Prof Pat Wall, who helps to run the Covid-19 contact tracing centre at UCD Science Centre. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Fergal Phillips

Prof Pat Wall, who helps to run the Covid-19 contact tracing centre at UCD Science Centre. Photo: Fergal Phillips

A blind man could have seen what was coming down the tracks, according to public health expert Professor Pat Wall.

For weeks, Covid-19 numbers had been ratcheting up on the Covid-19 data system. Behind each number is a person who tested positive for the virus, their details uploaded from the labs to a database held on the cloud that public health departments and the country's eight contact tracing centres can access via the web. It was clear to everyone what way the figures were going.

Not least the Health Service Executive (HSE). Every day, consultants reporting to the HSE track each centre's "KPIs" - key performance indicators: the key one being the number of Covid-19 cases they get through each day.


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