Rollout of antigen tests to vaccinated close contacts begins

Asia's Tech News Daily

Close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case who are fully vaccinated and asymptomatic will now receive a box of antigen tests.

Rollout of antigen tests to vaccinated close contacts begins
© Andrew Milligan The free antigen tests are available to anyone aged 13 and over (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly confirmed that the new initiative has begun and that close contacts who are vaccinated and do not have symptoms of the virus will now be able to test themselves at home using the free tests.

The Government announced earlier this month that antigen testing would have a wider role in the country’s response to the pandemic.

The free antigen tests are available to anyone aged 13 and over.

If an antigen test comes back positive, people will be required to self-isolate and get a PCR Covid-19 test.

The Health Service Executive says that people will receive a box of five antigen tests and will be asked to do three tests over the course of several days.

“It is a really important day today for rapid testing,” Mr Donnelly said.

He said households can expect to receive antigen tests from Friday onwards.

Mr Donnelly urged anyone with symptoms to still get a PCR test.

The Health Minister admitted that he would have liked the rollout of rapid testing to have been quicker.

“It has been slower than I would have liked,” he told Newstalk.

Concerns have been expressed in recent days about the major increase in Covid-19 cases.

There has been a total of 5,436 deaths related to #COVID19 notified in Ireland. This includes 67 deaths newly notified in the past week (since last Wednesday).

*Daily case numbers may change due to future data validation.

— Department of Health (@roinnslainte) October 27, 2021

On Wednesday, a further 1,631 cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in Ireland.

There were 503 people in hospital with the disease, with 101 in intensive care.

At a briefing by the National Public Health Emergency Team on Wednesday afternoon, deputy chief medical officer Dr Ronan Glynn said there had been a 27% increase in the number of patients in hospital with the virus in the last two weeks.

There were 67 newly notified deaths in the past week.

Mr Donnelly said that Ireland’s successful vaccine programme was the only reason that nightclubs and late-night venues had been allowed to reopen.

The Health Minister expressed support for the idea of extending the vaccine booster programme to healthcare workers, but said the Department of Health had to wait for advice from the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC).

“I would do it tomorrow. I think there’s a very strong case for boosters for healthcare workers,” he said.

“The advice from NIAC has always worked population by population, cohort by cohort.”

Mr Donnelly said that he and chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan were “engaging very closely with NIAC on this”.

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