– BAM Ireland has introduced weekly Covid-19 testing for all workers at its National Children’s Hospital (NCH) site. The introduction of testing adds to existing protocols at the site and results in over 1,000 workers being tested weekly in a partnership with HealthWatch.
Healthwatch PCR Test
The Healthwatch test is a new cost-effective saliva-based PCR test, which enables contractors to serial test for coronavirus infection.
Healthwatch, a company that has been working with the Construction Workers Health Trust since 2013 providing on-site health screening, has developed the fast-turnaround saliva-based serial Covid-19 test that can detect the presence of RNA from SARS Cov2, the virus that causes Covid 19. It also provides a quantitative measure of the amount of viral RNA. The ease of saliva sampling coupled to the fast turnaround (under 24 hours) and its affordability makes it an ideal test for screening large numbers of individuals on a frequent (eg weekly) basis.
The testing is expected to identify small numbers of positive cases before any symptoms appear, further reducing the risk of transmission and giving even greater security and confidence to all stakeholders involved in the project.
Saliva PCR testing is one of the most reliable Covid-19 tests available because it looks at the genetic material of the virus and is a very effective way of identifying Covid-19 infection. All tests are reviewed by an accredited laboratory with results back in as little as 12 hours. Anyone testing positive is personally called and then organises an official HSE Covid-19 test via their GP.
BAM carried out staff training and a successful trial screening for Covid-19 of 336 personnel. This detected six confirmed cases who had no symptoms and were immediately sent home to begin their quarantining. The weekly serial testing of the full site, in excess of 1,000 personnel, has now commenced and will be undertaken for a minimum of six weeks, at which point the programme will be reviewed in light of prevailing conditions at the time.
Staff diligence key to success
BAM NCH Project Director Howard McDonagh added, “We know that the quicker cases are identified, the easier they can be contained, reducing any potential disruption to productivity and ensuring this crucial national project can continue to be successfully delivered in a safe environment. We have had no on-site transmission of Covid-19 since the pandemic began, which is a testament to our diligent staff and the health and safety measures we have put in place. The implementation of the weekly serial programme has been very well received, and everyone is fully behind it, as its importance to society is clear.”
Serial Screening Recommendation
Healthwatch’s saliva RT-qPCR test, carried out regularly, is ideally suited to screen for positive cases before infected individuals can transmit the infection to others. Serial screening works best when conducted frequently. “A negative result received a week ago gives you no information as to your infectiousness today,” says Jack Nolan, Managing Director, Healthwatch. “We recommend that serial screening is performed at a frequency of at least once per week to provide effective support for businesses to remain open and operational. “While the incubation period from initial infection to symptom presentation is typically around six days, many individuals can begin to transmit the virus for several days before becoming symptomatic while others may be infectious and remain asymptomatic.”
Healthwatch can provide its PCR serial testing on a nationwide basis and can scale-up as demand grows.
A CIF webinar “Rapid, Affordable and Convenient Saliva Based RT qPCR Testing for COVID 19 13 11 2020” can be view on the CIF Academy website www.ciftraining.ie. For more details, contact Lucinda Horwell, Commercial Director. Healthwatch by email to [email protected]