ALL PEOPLE arriving into Ireland should have their temperatures checked as part of efforts to prevent new cases of Covid-19 entering the country, a cross-party committee has said.
he measure is among the recommendations made by the Dáil’s Special Committee on Covid-19 Response in its interim report on testing and tracing, which was published today.
The TDs say that infections entering the country through travel from overseas is a “strong risk” and all entrants should be temperature screened on arrival.
They also recommend that the overseas visitors be tested at least twice during their stay in Ireland “due to the limitations of point-in-time testing”.
The committee also recommends that mandatory quarantine upon entry “should be monitored more closely”.
The TDs say: “Quarantine should be enforced so that entrants are required to prove that they are compliant with this public health imperative.”
The committee is calling for changes to the current Covid-19 testing and contact tracing system to make it “more robust and efficient”.
Among 22 recommendations is also a call for the regular testing of all healthcare workers to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus.
Committee Chairman Michael McNamara TD, said: “The Committee understands that the system that was put in place in March was done in a hurry and a lot of contingency measures had to be taken given the risk of a pandemic sweeping the State.
“Because of the efforts of all our people, those measures were not needed, but what became clear to the Committee is that another lockdown would be unsustainable.
“Testing and contact tracing will allow the State to live with and treat outbreaks of Covid as they arise.”
The Committee report welcomes the work of the HSE to design a new and test and trace service model and states that the detail of this plan will be crucial to public health outcomes.
But it also warns that the potential for hospital overcrowding to negatively impact on virus containment is a serious risk.
The report says the test and trace system is facing two “severe stress tests” in the coming months: travel into and within the State, and flu season.
Deputy McNamara said: “We will need a system that has capacity to deal with a sudden surge in demand which will happen if we get a flu epidemic in the Autumn given the overlap on symptoms between the flu and Covid-19 and our already over-crowded hospitals and A&E Departments.”
Other recommendations include:
- A more vigorous response from the State to ensure contacts of confirmed cases are being tested;
- Ensuring a sufficient supply of testing equipment should remain a priority;
- The HSE’s new test and trace plan should include ambitious targets on testing capacity and turnaround times;
- The HSE’s target turnaround time for end-to-end testing should be one day at most