With the Government and National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet) now accepting Covid-19 antigen tests they will become a regular part of Irish life.
While Nphet has been slow to accept antigen tests, they have now recommended their use. Government has shelved plans for subsidised antigen tests, but it still looks like they will be one of the tools used in the fight against the virus.
Some people have already been using the tests for months for peace of mind before meeting friends and family.
Others have not yet, and it's important to use the tests correctly.
Martin O'Brien, operations manager at Covid testing company CoviSal, gave BreakingNews.ie a step-by-step guide on how to use antigen tests.
How to take an antigen test
"The antigen test comes in many different brands and packages, but the format is similar," Mr O'Brien said.
"There are three key parts to an antigen test: the test card, the reagent liquid and the swab."
- The first part is open the pack, read the instructions carefully. In preparing for it put the three key parts in front of you on a table. Open the test card, place it flat on the table, open the swabs and have your liquid reagent ready.
- You need a careful swabbing of both nostrils, between 2 and 4cm into the nose and what is recommended is five careful swabs of each nostril making sure to make good contact with the walls of both nostrils.
- Dip your swab into the liquid reagent, this is put into a vial tube in some cases and in some cases it comes in a separate portion, let it sit for one minute. Squeeze the swab within the plastic tube and reagent so the sample taken from the nostrils becomes part of the solution for the liquid reagent, after a minute carefully pour the liquid into the well in the test card as per the instructions.
- For a 15-minute period in most cases the sample is read on the card, the card is like litmus paper, it slowly absorbs across the test card and gives you the reading after 15 minutes. In most cases it’s one line for a negative and two lines for a positive. It’s important not to read the test after the time on the instructions because if someone reads a test after an hour or more moisture in the air can sometimes mess it up a little. Stick to the instructions and do not read the test after the 15-minute timeframe.
- If you get an inconclusive test which can sometimes happen, no lines, the recommendation is to take a second test and if you get two inconclusive results assume that you’re positive and consult your GP and organise a PCR test.
- In terms of disposal, in all cases an antigen test should be used by someone who is not symptomatic, so it’s not like a HSE test centre where people attending have symptoms, for disposal put it in a little bag, tie the top of the bag, and dispose of it in the refuse in the normal way.