"HSE Tight-Lipped on Number of Asymptomatic Covid Cases" - Tóibín
Aontú leader Peadar Tóibín TD has described as 'unbelievable' a letter which he has received from the HSE in recent days in which they reveal that they have not been monitoring the number of asymptomatic vs symptomatic Covid-19 positive cases resulting from pop-up testing centres.
Speaking in reaction to the letter, Deputy Tóibín said:
"A lot of people including journalists have been posing a very significant question in recent weeks regarding our daily reported Covid-19 case numbers and hospital numbers - how many of these cases represent people who have tested positive during routine testing but are not displaying any symptoms? In a letter to me this week, in response to a parliamentary question, the HSE have said that they don't know. This is phenomenal. A breakdown in data on asymptomatic vs symptomatic cases is vital - it would totally change our perspective and lead to better-informed decision-making. If I'm watching the news tonight and I see that there are 1,000 new confirmed cases, the HSE should be able to tell me how many of that thousand are not displaying any symptoms of the virus, and yet they don't know, they've havent been recording that data".
Deputy Tóibín continued: "My parliamentary question focused specifically on cases arising from 'pop up' testing centres, which we saw open in specific towns across the country at times when such towns were experiencing a high incident rate of Covid-19. These testing centres were a good idea- it offered the asymptomatic public a chance to present for a test - if they tested positive then they would isolate themselves and thus reduce transmission. Anyone who previously had Covid-19 or anyone displaying symptoms were not permitted to attend these pop-up test centres, they were very specifically targeted at asymptomatic persons only. My question to the Minister for Health asked how many Covid-positive asymptomatic cases resulted from pop-up testing centres. We must bear in mind that presumable every positive case arising from pop-up centres was asymptomatic. The HSE wrote back to me only this week to say that the data is not "catagorised as symptomatic or asymptomatic so we are not in a position to provide a breakdown of this data".
Deputy Tóibín added: "This is a most frustrating answer. The data in question is of huge importance - as I've said if 1,000 people test positive today, but it turns out a large percentage of them have no symptoms at all, then it completely changes the picture. Of our hospital cases - how many of them represent people who presented to hospital for other health-related issues, but happened to test positve during routine testing upon arrival but do not display symptoms. It is important from here on out that there is a breakdown provided on this data - presenting the figures without information on symptoms is mere scaremongering and is leading to ill-informed decision-making", concluded Tóibín.
NB: For a copy of the letter in question please contact Aontú on 085 223 96 20