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Varadkar says it was 'unfair' to dump contact tracing issues on GPs

Speaking at a private Fine Gael meeting this evening, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said it was "very unfair" of the health service to "dump" issues with contact tracing on GPs.

According to The Irish Times, Mr Varadkar told a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting this evening that the first he had heard about problems with the contact tracing system was in the paper's report on Tuesday night.

One meeting attendee claimed Mr Varadkar said he was disappointed to hear a HSE spokesman "dumping this all" on GPs.

Sources at the meeting told The Irish Times that Mr Varadkar said the HSE had been asked by various Ministers over the last few months if it had enough contact tracers and said that it had.

Mr Varadkar said the HSE had been told that there would not be an issue in funding additional contact tracers.

Another source said Mr Varadkar explained that the HSE had said staff that had been hired for contact tracing and let go in quieter times could be re-hired. Mr Varadkar told the meeting "that is not what had happened".

Various GPs have criticised the handling of Ireland’s contact tracing system which has been overwhelmed as daily cases of Covid-19 soar to unprecedented highs.

It has emerged that thousands of close contacts of positive Covid-19 cases will not be contacted by the HSE after the contact tracing system was overwhelmed by cases last weekend.

The HSE has instead asked those with a positive result to call their own contacts as a “one-off temporary measure” that was being implemented in consultation with GPs.