Covid-19 contact tracers start day-four check-in calls with self-isolators

Calls being made to positive cases to check if they need financial or mental health support

The check-in calls are being extended nationally following the pilot. Photograph: Alan Betson

The check-in calls are being extended nationally following the pilot. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Covid-19 contact tracers have started calling detected cases and close contacts on the fourth day of quarantine to check they are isolating and whether or not they may need financial or mental health support.

The HSE carried out a pilot of the new contacts and found that 95 per cent said they were complying fully while a further 3 per cent said they were complying partially.

The check-in calls are being extended nationally following the pilot.

“It is a short call to ask a few questions and to remind them of the public health advice and to see if they need financial or mental support while they are self-isolating,” said Niamh O’Beirne, the HSE’s national lead on testing and contact tracing.

The latest figures on the HSE’s testing at no-appointment, walk-in centres show that 2,394 coronavirus cases have been detected out of more than 70,000 people swabbed, amounting to an overall positivity rate of 3.5 per cent.

The highest number of swabs have been taken at the walk-in centre in Tallaght where 205 positive cases have been detected from 4,852 tests carried out.

Pilot scheme

The test centres in Tallaght, Ballymun and Blanchardstown in Dublin and in Wexford, Letterkenny in Co Donegal, and Longford have shown the highest positivity rates, ranging from between 4.5 per cent to 5.8 per cent. The highest positivity rate, at 4.4 per cent, has been in the 15- to 24-age group.

The walk-in testing was introduced at the end of March to catch virus cases among people who had mild or no symptoms of the disease, and who either did not have a GP to be referred for a test or did not consider themselves sick enough to contact a doctor for a test.

The day-four calls in the pilot scheme have also been used to ask people who tested positive through the walk-in centres why they voluntarily attended for testing.

Ms O’Beirne said that a large proportion of people who tested positive from the walk-in testing admitted to having mild symptoms such as a cough or a runny nose or that they identified a mild symptom associated with the virus without realising it once they were asked by contact tracers.