Each test for Covid-19 costs €200 and the State’s overall bill this year is expected to be between €400 million and €450 million, the Taoiseach has said.
He also signalled that it would be “months rather than weeks” before they could lift the “14-day quarantine for people coming into the country”.
He said they were looking at putting in a perspex partition between passengers and drivers to facilitate the re-introduction of driving tests.
Mr Varadkar was responding to Independent TD Michael McNamara who said the HSE when asked about the cost of tests said “hundreds of millions”.
He pointed out that the €200 cost of a test was a huge amount of money, particularly when a viral swab test typically costs about €25.
Mr McNamara said that in Vienna airport they are carrying out accelerated testing so it’s obviously more expensive. The cost is borne by the passenger and you get the result within three hours and it’s €190.
Flights via Shannon
The Taoiseach said “everything in healthcare is at a premium at the moment whether it’s PPE [personal protective equipment] or testing kits. Everyone is looking for the same stuff and the cost is very high but I think the cost of testing will come down.”
Mr McNamara, a TD for Clare, asked about the possibility of testing people leaving the country which might facilitate the re-opening of Shannon airport and the re-introduction of flights from Europe via Shannon and onto the US.
The Taoiseach said: “We currently have 14-day quarantine for people coming into the country.
“We’d like to get to a point at some stage in the future and I’m talking months rather than weeks where we can lift that quarantine requirement if people are flying to and from another country where the virus has been successfully suppressed, and then we wouldn’t need to do testing at all.
“But as things stand neither Britain nor America is one of those countries.”