Cheaper antigen tests to hit shops amid steep rise in Covid cases

The Government is coming under pressure to pause its plans for a full return to the workplace
Cheaper antigen tests to hit shops amid steep rise in Covid cases

A new plan to tackle rising Covid case numbers will see antigen testing kits offered at a subsidised rate through more retail outlets.

The Government is coming under pressure to pause its plans for a full return to the workplace and to advise people to work from home where possible.

Fresh advice to the Government from the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) has recommended that people engaging in what are described as high-risk activities, such as going to nightclubs and bars, should take at least two antigen tests a week.

According to The Irish Times, the Government is examining a new plan to make antigen tests more widely available at a subsidised rate from shops, while a new campaign will inform people how to use the tests correctly.

An expert advisory group on rapid testing recommended that individuals who attend restaurants, cinemas, bars and nightclubs, or who participate in contact sports, multi-household visits or car-sharing, should use the tests regularly.

Chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan, in his letter to the Government, asked that “the Government consider reinstating previous advice to work from home where possible”.

Sinn Féin has also called on Government to “heed the guidance” of Nphet and “reinstate advice allowing workers the option to work remotely”.

In its letter, Nphet warned that recent social activity data showed workplaces accounted for the greatest share of close contacts after households, with a “step change increase in early September”.

Nphet said the incidence of the disease across the country was “very high and has been increasing at a concerning rate”.

Further restrictions across society cannot be ruled out, it warned.

The team will meet again in two weeks to consider issues “including the upcoming festive period”.

Another 5,483 cases of Covid-19 were reported on Friday, with 549 people in hospital with the virus and 96 in intensive care.

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