Gardaí were told to return to work just five days after they were close contacts of a Covid case
A senior officer informed members they could return once they were asymptomatic and had tested negative
January 13 2021 02:30 AM
Gardaí in close contact with a Covid case were told to return to work within five days if they were asymptomatic and tested negative – contrary to HSE guidelines.
An email was circulated to all members of a garda district in Meath this week following a confirmed Covid case in a station in the county.
A decision had earlier been made to test all gardaí who had been in the station within the previous 48 hours of the positive test, whether they were a close contact or not.
On Monday, a senior officer informed members in the district via email that those “who were asymptomatic for a period of five days since the close contact, and tested negative, will return to work”.
According to the email, this was to address “the critical nature of the service” provided and that there were provisions for same.
The advice is contrary to guidelines issued by the HSE, which state that a person in close contact with a confirmed case should stay at home and isolate. The HSE advises that this should be done for a period of 14 days, even if a person tests negative for coronavirus.
Earlier this month the health service also said it would no longer be testing close contacts due to capacity limits being exceeded.
They said that only people with Covid symptoms would be tested and that close contacts were advised to isolate for 14 days. A Garda spokesman said that a member attached to the garda station in Meath had tested positive and a decision was made, in consultation with the HSE, that all gardaí who were in the station in the previous 48 hours would be tested.
“All affected members self-isolated until Covid-19 test results were received.
“Notwithstanding the email referred to, An Garda Síochána continues to comply with HSE guidelines in respect of staff based on the determination as to whether they are close contacts or casual contacts,” the spokesman said.
“HSE guidelines, supported by internal An Garda Síochána chief medical officer guidance, are routinely circulated to all staff members of An Garda Síochána. All members of An Garda Síochána are expected to fully comply with HSE guidelines.
“Since the commencement of the Covid-19 pandemic, An Garda Síochána has not provided commentary on the individual status of members or individual Garda stations/sections.
“An Garda Síochána maintains effective operational resilience. Covid-19 has not impacted on frontline Garda services, although the current impact of Covid-19 is more significant at this time,” the spokesman added.
Gardaí continue to deal with clusters of Covid cases across the country, which has led to members from other areas, including the Garda band, being redeployed to supplement frontline personnel.