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Tony Holohan is worried as infection rates continue to rise across the country

Tony Holohan is worried as infection rates continue to rise across the country

Colin Keegan

Tony Holohan is worried as infection rates continue to rise across the country

Members of the public who have tested positive for Covid-19 are to get an immediate text message alert telling them their result.

The fresh move to help curb the virus comes as public health departments face increasing pressure as the virus continues to surge.

"People who test positive for Covid-19 will now receive a text message to their phone informing them of their test result," the HSE said.

"The text tells them that they will be contacted by the HSE's contact tracing team by phone for a detailed follow up, and that in the meantime, they should self-isolate.

"People in their household should restrict their movements until the contact tracing team gets in touch with them.

Restrict

"In addition, the HSE will also phase in new text messages to people who are identified as close contacts of a person diagnosed with Covid-19."

The HSE also plan to start sending a text message to parents or guardians of children who have been identified as close contacts in childcare facilities and schools.

The text will inform them that their child has been referred for a test as they are considered to be a close contact.

"If the child is feeling well, other people in their household do not need to restrict their movements. However, if they become unwell, they must self-isolate and phone a doctor. Other people in the household should then restrict their movements," said the HSE.

It comes as three additional deaths related to Covid-19 and 811 new cases were notified yesterday.

"We have widespread community transmission in the country," Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan warned.

"The spread of Covid-19 is a whole population issue, which is why we're appealing to every single individual, every single family, household, organisation, workplace, to act on public health advice.

"You are the frontline defence against this disease."

Dr Ronan Glynn, his deputy, added: "If we see community transmission patterns continuing to grow, we're going to see more vulnerable groups being infected and the result of that, unfortunately will be further hospitalisations and deaths.

"Limiting your contacts, avoiding crowds and following basic public health measures will ultimately save lives."

The National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) is to meet tomorrow to review the national picture.

The situation in several counties is continuing to deteriorate and the 14-day incidence rate is on the rise in several counties.

Meanwhile, a number of senior garda management personnel are restricting their movements and working from home after coming into close contact with an officer who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The senior officer was asymptomatic when he attended a number of meetings at Garda HQ in the Phoenix Park last week. It is understood that he contracted the virus at a setting not linked to his job.

A number of senior officers who were in contact with him have now undergone Covid testing.

A statement from An Garda Siochana said public health guidelines in relation to use of masks, hand sanitiser and social distancing were followed at the meeting last week.

In the North, experts have warned that Covid-19 infection rates will keep rising if schools and the hospitality sector remain open.

Advice from health and scientific experts has been submitted by health minister Robin Swann for Stormont ministers to consider.

The weekly meeting of the powersharing administration, scheduled for tomorrow, was brought forward to yesterday in an indication that decisions on fresh restrictions are imminent.

Lockdown

First minister Arlene Foster spoke of her concern at the "very high level" of transmission of the virus, and the "unenviable position" of the region having the highest rate in the UK.

Health officials are pushing for a six-week lockdown for the entire region.

"Some people have said it is about health versus wealth. I think that is a completely false analysis... these are huge decisions. None of them are easy."

A further seven deaths and 863 infections were reported in the North yesterday.

Some 6,286 new positive cases of the virus have been detected in the last seven days in the North, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 21,898.