Creche owner had to do her own contact tracing after cyberattack

HSE says the affected north Co Dublin childcare facility was an ‘isolated case’

Two-thirds of the 45 children at the creche in question were deemed to be close contacts of the infected staff member. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

Two-thirds of the 45 children at the creche in question were deemed to be close contacts of the infected staff member. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A north Co Dublin creche owner had to carry out her own contact tracing of close contacts of a Covid-19 infected staff member due to the HSE cyberattack.

The Dublin woman, who did not want the childcare facility identified, said a staff member tested positive early on Tuesday but it was 36 hours before anyone from the HSE’s public health department contacted her about the case.

“When we finally got to speak to somebody, it was late on Wednesday evening and basically they told us that they couldn’t contact anybody because of the hack,” she said.

The HSE sent her three text messages that she was to share. One for parents of children deemed to be close contacts, and a second for parents of children who were not. The third message was to tell parents there was no outbreak at the creche (just a case) but that it had to close because staff were self-isolating.

Close contacts

The close family contacts of the infected staff member were contacted by the HSE’s contact tracers but the creche owner said she had to contact the parents and other staff. Two-thirds of the 45 children at the creche were deemed to be close contacts of the staff member.

Workaround The HSE’s national lead for testing and contract tracing, Niamh O’Beirne, said

this was “an isolated case”, adding that the health official involved in handling it may not have understood “the workaround process” put in place in the aftermath of the cyber attack.

Public health doctors were having to work without an IT system, she said.

All routine contact tracing was functioning and there were “workarounds” in place “for communicating and managing complex cases such as creches, schools and workplaces”.

“Since last Tuesday, all education referrals are back to being automated appointments for day zero and day 10 tests,” she said.