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Gardaí to launch probe into care home outbreak

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A care worker concealed a positive Covid-19 test (pic posed)

A care worker concealed a positive Covid-19 test (pic posed)

A care worker concealed a positive Covid-19 test (pic posed)

Gardaí are expected to launch a criminal investigation after an outbreak of Covid-19 at a care home, where it is alleged a worker concealed a positive test result from managers and continued working.

Yesterday, the Herald revealed an elderly female resident and a second staff member contracted the virus at the facility, which caters for people with intellectual disabilities.

Another four staff members and residents have also been in isolation since early last week, when management first learned of the positive test result.

The management said none of the infected individuals required hospitalisation and all were recovering well.

According to sources, a preliminary inquiry has established that the contact information given at the HSE Covid test centre two weeks ago did not identify the person as a care worker. As a result, the HSE contact tracing system did not automatically contact the care home when the woman's test proved ­positive three days later.

Obliged

It's understood an official complaint will be made to gardaí next week following the completion of a preliminary inquiry involving the care management and the HSE.

A senior source said under existing regulations and legislation the HSE is obliged "automatically" to refer the matter for criminal investigation.

"One aspect of any investigation would be to establish if there is evidence of an offence of reckless endangerment," the source said.

Management at the care facility ordered a lockdown on Monday, August 17, when it was discovered the worker had continued looking after the two residents, including the elderly female, despite being informed of the test result.

The worker took the Covid test on Wednesday, August 12. She had been contact traced by the HSE after her son, a meat factory worker, had proved positive for the virus.

It is understood the care worker was informed of her positive result three days later, on Saturday 15, while she was working a weekend shift providing full-time care for the two residents of the home, including the elderly lady.

Sources confirmed management were not informed of the test result and the employee continued working until her shift ended on the Sunday. The issue came to light the next day.

Any criminal investigation is likely to try to establish why the individual did not inform her employers of being contacted for a test.

The information given to the HSE and the alleged failure to immediately inform managers at the home will also be ­central to the inquiry.

A statement from the care home provider said it "became aware on Monday, August 17, that a staff member" had received a positive test for Covid.

The statement added that the families of "all the service users that were exposed to this staff member" have been informed.