Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
517. To ask the Minister for Health the status of the establishment of voluntary tracing apps arising from Covid-19; the proposals relating to the working of such apps at EU level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10414/20]
As part of the national response to Covid-19, work is underway to develop a national contact tracing app for Ireland that will help the public health service improve the speed and completeness of contact tracing and to map and predict the spread of Covid-19.
Developing contact tracing capability in mobile phones is a non-trivial engineering and public health exercise.
Development of the contact tracing app for Ireland is now complete and validation testing is underway to prove the functionality of the app in real world scenarios. The app will be released when validation testing is complete, and all appropriate approvals are in place. The results of validation testing will inform the go live date.
Apps are also being developed in many EU countries. Each is tailored to meet the needs of the national public health service and specifically the way in which contact tracing operations has been set up to work.
DG Sante, DG Connect and other key stakeholders at EU level are leading the way in developing interoperability standards to enable national apps to work in other members states, to support EU citizens as they travel between countries. Ireland is actively engaged in these activities through its membership of the EU eHealth network, which is acting as the forum for these discussions and agreements. Last week, the eHealth network agreed to pilot a solution for interoperability between members states using ‘decentralised’ contact tracing apps.
518. To ask the Minister for Health the number of Covid-19 cases detected to date among residents in direct provision centres; the number of centres that these occurred in; if the residents of such centres were subsequently tested for Covid-19 in addition to the staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10209/20]
520. To ask the Minister for Health the number of residents in direct provision centres who have been exposed to Covid-19 and require a test; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10452/20]
521. To ask the Minister for Health the details of the care pathway for a person in direct provision who needs to be tested for Covid-19; the persons who can order these tests; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10453/20]
522. To ask the Minister for Health the details of the testing programme for residents in direct provision in tabular form; the number of centres that have been tested; the number of persons who have been tested; if a plan for the remaining tests to be completed is in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10454/20]
While the evidence relating to the SARS-CoV-2 virus is evolving, it is clear now that the risks of transmission of any respiratory pathogens such as the type that causes Covid-19 are lessened when greater distance is maintained between people. The current advice is that you should follow social distancing guidance everywhere outside the home, including keeping a physical distance of 2 metres apart. It is also recommended that face coverings be worn in situations where social distancing is difficult to maintain, such as shops, and on public transport, or when meeting someone who is vulnerable to the virus, for example people who are cocooning. The recommendation applies to those people aged over 13 who can tolerate them.
This advice is kept under review by the National Public Health Emergency Team on a continuing basis. Arising from their meeting of 4 June, 2020, the National Public Health Emergency Team has requested that the Health Protection Surveillance Centre develop guidance on the application of existing social distancing requirements in specific, defined and controlled environments in the hospitality industry during periods of low incidence of the disease. This guidance will then be considered by the National Public Health Emergency Team on completion.