Thursday, 21 May 2020
Covid-19 (Health): Statements
Simon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
I join with the Deputy in paying tribute to healthcare workers across the country. The point he makes is a very interesting one, that they have been at work when many of us have been staying at home, and the Deputy raises their concern in respect of their children and their children's education. The Deputy will understand that it is a matter for my colleague, the Minister for Education and Skills, but I will certainly raise the matter with him and ask that he or I respond to the Deputy directly. I thank the Deputy for bringing it to my attention.
On the issue of testing, I hope people are beginning to see an improvement in the turnaround time. Job number one was trying to ramp up capacity so that we have capacity to do up to 15,000 tests a day or 100,000 tests a week from this week. Job number two, which is equally important, is the turnaround times. I am very pleased that the HSE has now outlined how it intends to provide an average of one to two days of a turnaround time from swab to result. I am certainly getting feedback of an improvement in turnaround times but I will keep a very close eye on it. On lab capacity, that is a matter for the HSE but I would be happy to take examples the Deputy has given me and ask the HSE to respond. I would point out that we are now using 41 labs, which is a very significant lab capacity. That has grown from just using one lab in UCD and has been built up right across the country. If there is potential to do more, I would be very happy to hear about that from the Deputy.