HIQA publishes Covid-19 incubation advice to NPHET

Close contacts should be tested for the virus and limit their movements for 14 days

A review of the available evidence for the Covid-19 incubation period found that without testing, a 14-day restriction of movement of 95 percent will likely capture 95 percent of cases that become symptomatic.

The review was carried out by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) on behalf of the National Public Health Expert Team (NPHET) to aid the national response to the pandemic.

The council supported the current recommendations in Ireland that close contacts of a Covid-19 case should be tested for the virus and their movements restricted for 14 days.

"Restriction of movement" was defined as separating and restricting the movements of people who may have been exposed to Covid-19 as a precautionary measure for the disease.

This is not the same as "self-isolation," according to HIQA, which keeps people with symptoms of Covid-19 or a diagnosis of Covid-19 away from people who were not infected to prevent transmission.

Comment on the review, which included recommendations from 22 countries and four international agencies, Dr. Máirín RyanNPHET, director of health technology assessment and vice chairman of the board of directors of HIQA, said that without changes to the current testing strategy, NPHET was advised that the 14-day limit on movement should remain.

"It is important that people who are or may be exposed to Covid-19 limit their movements to minimize community transmission as it has been shown that people without symptoms can spread the infection," added Dr. Ryan added.

HIQA was also asked by NPHET to investigate the possible effects of tests to reduce the duration of restricted movement for close contacts of a Covid-19 case by 14 days.

Based on a modeling exercise, HIQA concluded that any testing strategy to reduce the 14 day restricted movement period posed an increased risk of transmission.

According to HIQA, an increased risk of transmission may not be acceptable given the current level of Community transmission in Ireland.

"If changes are made to the current testing strategy for those who are restricting movement later in the response, those changes must be accompanied by a clear communication strategy," said Dr. Ryan.

“It is important that people understand the reasons for the two tests and the impact of receiving an 'undetected' first test result, as many people at this early stage may still be in the incubation phase of the disease. Regardless of changes, it is important that people continue to follow all Covid-19 public health guidelines. "

The advice was published on the HIQA website.

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