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Nurse who was not tested for coronavirus before starting job at Dublin hospital now has Covid-19, Dáil told

  • Case raised by People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett
  • Health workers make up 31.5pc of Covid-19 cases, Dr Holohan tells special committee

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Richard Boyd Barrett. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

Richard Boyd Barrett. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

Richard Boyd Barrett. Photo: Collins Photo Agency

A NURSE who began work in a Dublin hospital two weeks ago was not tested for coronavirus before starting the job and now has the virus the Dáil has been told.

People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett raised the case as he expressed concern at what he claimed was a "much higher" rate of infection among Irish health workers than other countries.

Earlier Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan had told the Dáil's Special Committee on Covid Response that health workers make up 31.5pc of coronavirus cases.

He said health staff are being prioritised for testing.

He admitted the infection rates among staff is a "challenge" and it "reflects the fact that healthcare workers are on the front line".

Mr Boyd Barrett raised the case of an agency nurse recruited by a Dublin hospital two weeks ago who has now tested positive in the last couple of days.

He said the nurse was never tested before starting the job at the hospital where there is vulnerable people.

He asked "how on earth" that situation could arise and if the advice given to the National Health Emergency Team on infections among staff will be published.

Mr Holohan said he would be willing to publish the advice offered by an expert group on the issue.

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He said new guidance on the matter has been issued by the European Centre of Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) today.

Mr Holohan said he can't provide an answer on the specifics of an individual nurse.

He insisted there has been a "significant programme" of testing of staff in all healthcare settings.

He said that the NPHET would have been discussing the issue today if it had been meeting as it usually does on a Tuesday.

The group is to consider the categories of people to be prioritised as testing capacity expands.

Mr Holohan confirmed that the HSE has the capacity to test 100,000 people per week.

Social Democrats TD Róisín Shortall asked about the "disconnect" between the 3,000 tests being carried out per day and the 15,000 capacity that is now in place.

He said that tests are not being carried out at a scale of 15,000-a-day adding that the NPHET wants to discussed who should be prioritised for testing.

Mr Holohan said results of the tests being conducted are coming back with a 3pc infection rate.

He said that confirmed contacts of individuals who have fallen ill are now automatically being tested.

Mr Holohan said he expects this to "add significantly to understanding of community transmission" of the disease.


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