Closure of COVID-19 testing centres and continued COVID-19 surveillance


Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic HPSC and surveillance partners have operated several parallel surveillance systems to monitor COVID-19 activity.

COVID-19 Community testing centres will close be closed from 30th March 2023. Testing will continue to take place in healthcare settings guided by clinical assessment. The closure of community testing centres will decrease the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases detected and reported by HPSC. However, several of the COVID-19 surveillance programmes will not be impacted by the closure, and through these we will continue to monitor COVID-19 activity and its impact, in particular severe disease and transmission in higher risk settings.

COVID-19 remains a notifiable infection in Ireland, and all laboratory confirmed cases will continue to be notified on Ireland’s Computerised Infectious Disease Reporting system (CIDR) and monitored. However, we know that surveillance of all diseases is affected by testing policies, access to testing services, and health seeking and testing behaviours. Over the last year, the COVID-19 testing policy in Ireland has shifted from testing of all people with symptoms to testing of only those at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease. We have seen the impact of this on the number and demography of confirmed cases captured on CIDR. The closure of the testing centres will have a further impact. HPSC has always considered the impact of the contemporaneous testing policy when determining the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 and will continue to do so.

The widespread access to testing in the community, and the ability to self-refer for testing, was unique to COVID-19 and the pandemic response. As the COVID-19 community testing centres close, COVID-19 testing and therefore the surveillance of laboratory confirmed cases will now be more in line with other respiratory viruses such as influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

HPSC and partners will continue to monitor:

  • COVID-19 outbreaks in health and residential care settings
  • COVID-19 cases admitted to ICU
  • mortality related to COVID-19
  • acute respiratory infections seen in general practice
  • severe acute respiratory infections admitted to hospital
  • SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) levels in wastewater through the National Wastewater Surveillance Programme
  • SARS-CoV-2 variants through the National Whole Genome Sequencing Programme
  • seroprevalance of COVID-19 through the National Serosurveillance Programme

Information from this wide variety of COVID-19 surveillance programmes in Ireland, will together enable HPSC to continue to monitor the epidemiological situation.