THE Government has been called on to make antigen test kits free and more widely accessible for the public to alleviate the shortage of antigen testing equipment nationwide.
Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central, Thomas Gould, said every household should have access to antigen test kits to take the pressure off the PCR testing process.
“Every household should have access to antigen tests, so they can test regularly, as the virus is so prevalent. If you have a few children and you have to do tests on a regular basis, it costs a lot of money to buy antigen tests. We need the antigen tests to be made free and accessible for all, because the PCR testing is being overwhelmed. We need something to take the pressure off them,” he said.
Mr Gould said antigen tests should be posted out to every household.
“People are now running around supermarkets and pharmacies trying to buy antigen tests. Antigen tests should be immediately posted out to every family in the country. The HSE are playing their part.
“They are carrying out 300,000 tests per week, but they are not able to cope with the current, unprecedented demands. The Government needs to have a strategy, as the situation is deteriorating rapidly.”
Labour local area representative, Peter Horgan, reiterated his call on the Government to subsidise the tests to ensure those who are struggling to make ends meet can access them for free.
Mr Horgan said: “Antigen tests have an important role to play in protecting people and identifying asymptomatic cases: They must be subsidised. At this stage, it seems that government policy seems to be decided on an ad-hoc basis. We’ve seen the pressure on PCR tests.”
Mr Horgan said antigen tests are a crucial tool against Covid-19.
“We know that antigen tests are a crucial tool in our armoury against Covid. We need to empower people to continue to use antigen tests as part of their regular life. However, the cost of antigen tests is simply too expensive for many still.
“Without investing in basic things to tackle the spread of Covid, we will just end up having to spend more money on agency staff and nurses.
“For the minister for health to say the market has effectively subsidised these tests is genuinely unbelievable.
“This needs to be addressed by the Government as a priority. We need to ensure that people in Cork have the fundamentals in place to protect themselves, their families, and their friends,” he added.