HSE says 50,000 antigen tests available for use from next week

Tests will be used for close contacts at centres ‘if maximum capacity of PCR tests is reached’

HSE: 50,000 antigen tests for close contacts will be available from test centres from next week

HSE: 50,000 antigen tests for close contacts will be available from test centres from next week

 

The HSE’s national lead for testing and tracing has said that 50,000 antigen tests for close contacts will be available from test centres from next week for use if the maximum capacity of 20,000 to 22,000 PCR tests is reached.

Niamh O’Beirne said swabbing sites tested 16,000 people on Monday. This figure is expected to rise later in the week and could exceed the maximum capacity figure by early next week at which stage antigen testing would be used for close contacts.

The testing surge was a mixture of walk-ins and people who were close contacts, Ms O’Beirne told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show

“There’s about 30 per cent who actually show up at the test site as a walk-in, some are travel-related – which is the day five test on returning from overseas travel - and then about 10 per cent are GP-referred, and the remainder are close contacts.

As the number of cases increased so too would the number of close contacts, she predicted.

“That 20 per cent to 30 per cent per day that’s referred as close contacts – when we pull that out of the testing numbers, we will drop demand on the sites to enable us to be able to get to everybody very quickly.”

Some sites were seeing positivity rates of up to 25 per cent, but fewer people were using the service as “a reassurance measure,” she added.

“At the moment, for good planning, we would be expecting to be deploying antigen tests at the beginning of next week.”

Although hospitalisations associated with Covid-19 remain low relative to pandemic highs recorded in January, the HSE said on Monday it was examining modelling and projections.

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said he was “concerned that large caseloads will put severe pressure on the HSE”.

On Monday, there were 101 people with a Covid diagnosis in hospital, up from 63 a week previously – 20 are currently in intensive care. At the peak of the third wave in January, 2,020 people were hospitalised with the disease.

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