My conversation with Irish HSE support regarding Coronavirus is pretty shocking

I spent the morning chatting with the HSE on-line support and as I suspected Ireland doesn’t really have a plan to deal with an outbreak of the coronavirus. Basically, if you have any of the symptoms stay at home. And most definitely do not rock up to a hospital or GP Surgery. There could be people infected in Ireland at the moment and we wouldn’t know. Nobody is being tested in a meaningful way.

The HSE website has two or three pages of generic information that is informative but not at all practical, especially if there is an outbreak similiar to the ones in Italy, South Korea or Iran. The HSE have not updated their protocols for any of the three above countries over the weekend. All HSE protocols are still for people that have visited mainland China or been in contact with people that have been in mainland China. This, despite the fact that there is clear evidence since Friday Feb 21st of major virus outbreaks in other parts of the world. Also, it is not clear to me why Hong Kong is being treated differently to mainland China as there are clear problems there too.

It is clearly a policy to only contact a medical professional if you have been to China AND have symptoms. As we know this virus can take up to 10 days to reveal symptoms.

 


Here is a transcript of my conversation with the HSE online support.


For some reason it seems to be a secret as to WHERE people will go to be tested. I asked this question a few different times trying to get a definitive answer. None was forthcoming. I would imagine that tests would need to be carried out in secure locations away from regular hospital emergency departments and/or medical centers.

Is the Department of Health prepared for a situation where large numbers of people need to be tested?

Based on the info from the HSE website and my interaction with them it would seem the answer is no.

Shouldn’t we begin to set up Test Centers and advertise where they will be and start a program of testing for the virus in preparation for an outbreak?

It would seem to me that following current HSE guidelines, testing in Ireland will not commence in a meaningful way until someone is close to death. This then will trigger a focus on testing a huge number of tests in the vicinity of that patient zero. Too little too late surely?

 

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