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HSE may use antigen testing after initial phase of reopening indoor dining

DUBLIN: The Health and Safety Executive plans to use antigen testing to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. The HSE Chief Paul Reid said it may be also used for close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients.

“We are planning to utilise antigen testing for outbreaks, where they are very well proven, and potentially also for close contacts,” Reid said.

Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin told reporters in Dundalk today that the possibility of rapid antigen testing could be utilized after the initial phase of reopening indoor hospitality. The first phase of reopening will be limited to people who have been vaccinated and have recently recovered from COVID-19.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar had earlier suggested the use of rapid antigen testing as an alternative to the COVID pass (Digital Cert) when bars and restaurants reopen.

Earlier last month, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly convened an expert panel on rapid antigen testing to examine how to use rapid antigen testing safely to open our society.

However, Public health officials have always been reluctant to recommend antigen testing to the public since it does not provide accurate results like PCR testing. Last month, the Chief Medical Officer said that antigen testing is “just not as good as PCR”.

“It’s not a skepticism of antigen testing, it’s the absence of evidence to show that they work well enough to recommend their use,” Dr. Holohan said.

HSE CEO said that the health service is “extremely busy”.  Mr. Reid added: “None of us want to go back to the dark days of January where we had over 2,000 people being treated with Covid in hospital and 212 people in ICU’s.

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