Testing Times

Today is April 12th which means, astonishingly, that it’s just one month since Ireland went into the first stage of its current lockdown. I say “astonishingly” because it seems much longer ago than that!

I know I’m not the only person who is finding it difficult these days to keep track of the passage of time. The lack of a regular routine seems to be the reason. The solution, I imagine, is to try to impose a timetable on yourself rather than have it imposed upon you by someone else. I’ve only been partially successful in that, probably because I lack the necessary self-discipline. Still, somewhat to my surprise, I am not having any significant problems sleeping.

Anyway talking about testing times, I wanted to make a quick comment on the Covid-19 situation in Ireland. I’ve been keeping track of the statistics on my page here, which I shall continue to update as things develop. The latest plot is as follows.

The last two points in the orange curve show a bit of a spike. That is because they include the results from a batch of about 6000 swabs sent for testing to Germany. These should be apportioned to earlier dates but lacking the information needed to do this in a sensible way I’ve just plotted them when the results were received (Friday and Saturday). This also means that the slight inflection in the blue curve is not real, but it doesn’t change the general picture significantly.

This is a manifestation of a major difficulty that the authorities in Ireland are facing, which is the capacity to do coronavirus testing in sufficient numbers and sufficiently rapidly to enable contact tracing in real time which is needed to further control the spread of this disease. At present only around two thousand tests per day are being done, which is inadequate.

Although the recent upward blip is an artefact, the fact remains that there is no evidence that the number of new cases is reducing sufficiently quickly for the relaxation of the rules to be considered feasible. There is a real danger that if the number of new cases does not stop falling soon, the number of patients needing intensive care will exceed the resources available.

Anyway, I reckon things will stay as they are until June at the earliest, so we’ll just have to get used to it!

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