A new report by the Special Oireachtas Committee on Covid-19 has called for changes to the testing and contact tracing system to make it more robust.

The interim report published today recommends temperature screening of all entrants into the State from overseas.

It also says there should be regular testing of all healthcare workers to identify asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

The report highlights the important role of testing and contact tracing in enabling the State to remain open.

It welcomes the work of the Health Service Executive to design a new test and trace service model and states that the detail of this plan will be crucial to public health outcomes. 

It warns that the potential for hospital overcrowding to negatively impact on virus containment is a 'serious risk'.

The committee said this issue needs to be addressed within the HSE's test and trace plan, and that any investment which could help to resolve the issue should be put in place.

The report also warns the test and trace system is facing two "severe stress tests" in the coming months including travel into and within the State along with the flu season.

It recommends a more vigorous response from the State to ensure contacts of confirmed cases are being tested for the virus and that this is understood to be a mandatory public health responsibility.

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It says mandatory quarantine upon entry into the State from overseas should be monitored more closely. It points out that ensuring a sufficient supply of testing equipment should remain a priority.

The report recommends that the HSE's new test and trace plan include ambitious targets on testing capacity and turnaround times, with matching investment in healthcare facilities, including isolation rooms.

It says detailed anonymised data about infections including geographical and demographic information should be made public as quickly as possible.

It recommends the dangers of unofficial, private tests, which may not be reliable and give false confidence should be emphasised in messaging to the public .

The report also calls for an ongoing assessment of the technical performance of the HSE's Covid Tracker app. It points out that the HSE's target turnaround time for end-to-end testing should be one day at most. 

Chairman of the Committee, Independent TD Michael McNamara, said: "The Committee understands that the system that was put in place in March was done in a hurry and a lot of contingency measures had to be taken given the risk of a pandemic sweeping the State. 

"Because of the efforts of all our people, those measures were not needed, but what became clear to the Committee is that another lock down would be unsustainable. Testing and contact tracing will allow the State to live with and treat outbreaks of Covid as they arise."