HSE chief Paul Reid apologises for contact tracing issues
"I regret that it happened but there are big calls we are going to have to make as we move through this process."
The director general of the HSE Paul Reid has apologised for the recent contact tracing issues which meant that over 2,000 people who tested positive for Covid-19 were asked to alert their own close contacts.
The government has faced criticism in recent days after it emerged the HSE did not contact thousands of close contacts of confirmed cases over a three-day period from Friday, 16 October to Sunday, 18 October because the contact tracing system was overwhelmed by cases.
Those with confirmed cases from those days were sent a text on Tuesday asking them to alert their own close contacts to restrict their movements and to immediately contact their GP to arrange a test.
Reid described the situation as "unfortunate" and "concerning" but said the HSE had been recruiting people steadily for contact tracing positions, including 200 people over the last fortnight. However, a "huge surge" in cases had caused problems last weekend.
"It was a risk based decision we had to make," Reid said on Today with Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1.
"One thing I always take cognisance of, I said at the very start of this pandemic, to Oireachtas members to Cabinet committees, we will get 70% of decisions right and sometimes 30% of them won't be right but the most important thing we do is that we make decisions.
"And Mike Ryan of the WHO is always very clear on that: If you wait for perfection you won't stay on top of things, so in terms of the weekend I want to acknowledge the 70% factor of the decision was right, we had to make that operational decision that we had to make on Tuesday.
"The 30% factor that we caused a lot of angst for politicians, for the Minister, for the Taoiseach in the last couple of days was that they weren't notified until Tuesday evening and I acknowledge that and I take full responsibility for that."
He added: "It's an unfortunate situation. I regret that it happened but there are big calls we are going to have to make as we move through this process."
Reid also said he accepts full responsibility for not informing the Minister for Health about the situation.