Environment minister’s first test returned a positive result
Eamon Ryan is going to the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow today after all.
A second Covid-19 test showed negative – apparently undoing the result of a previous positive test which had initially prompted him to cancel his trip.
A spokesman for the Environment Minister and Green Party leader has defended the handling of the case and insisted Mr Ryan acted at all times on the basis of the professional advice he was given.
After the initial test, Mr Ryan also followed all HSE protocols for people who test positive for Covid-19, including self-isolation and informing all his close contacts.
Mr Ryan’s first test, taken last Friday, was done at the behest of the COP26 organisers and had a positive result. But the National Ambulance Service, which does tests for government ministers and officials in cases where they are required for official business, administered a second test, which yesterday was revealed to be negative.
The HSE said second tests are sometimes administered where the result is deemed “ambiguous”.
It is understood the case for carrying out a second test was added to by Mr Ryan having no symptoms and not being in any way associated with other cases of the virus in his direct contacts.
A HSE spokesman said they could not comment on any individual case. But he said there were general criteria for carrying out a second test.
“In certain instances, where clinically indicated, a repeat test may be recommended for an individual. This is typically based on a discussion between the testing laboratory and the person requesting the test, and takes into account a number of factors, such as the laboratory result itself, including viral targets detected etc, the reason for the test, and the condition of the person having the test performed,” the senior HSE official said.
Health service sources said that second tests “happen pretty regularly” – especially in cases where a person does not have any Covid-19 symptoms.
Cases where the first result is deemed to be on the lower end of the infection scale are also a reason for a second test.
In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Ryan said that following his initial positive test result for Covid-19 on Saturday, he received notification from the HSE that a second test was recommended. The result of this test showed that Covid-19 was not detected.
“The public health advice in this instance is that the case is de-notified, close contacts are informed and the person can continue about their business. Minister Ryan now plans to travel to Glasgow for COP26 tomorrow,” the statement said.
“Minister Ryan has not been symptomatic at any point. He underwent the initial test as a precautionary measure as recommended by the organisers of COP 26. On receipt of the initial result, he followed all HSE protocols including self-isolation and informing close contacts. Minister Ryan has updated the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and the Secretary to the Government with this information,” it concluded.