It’s emerged Gardaí in a district in the Meath Garda Division –  who had been close contacts with a Covid case, have been told by a senior officer to return to work within five days if they were asymptomatic and tested negative.

The instruction is contrary to HSE guidelines, which advise that anyone who is a close contact with a confirmed case should stay at home and isolate for 14 days, even if a person tests negative for coronavirus.

The Irish Independent is reporting the email was circulated to all members of a garda district in Meath on Monday following a confirmed Covid case in a station in the county.

In it, a senior officer informed them that those “who were asymptomatic for a period of five days since the close contact, and tested negative, will return to work”.

In a statement the Garda Press Office confirms that in consultation with An Garda Síochána the HSE Public Health team determined that all members who had been at the station in the immediate previous 48 hours would undergo a Covid-19 testing – irrespective of their contact status.

All affected members self-isolated until COVID-19 test results were received.

The statement says all members of An Garda Síochána are expected to fully comply with HSE guidelines, and notwithstanding the email, An Garda Síochána continues to comply with HSE guidelines in respect of staff – based on the determination as to whether they are close contacts or casual contacts.