TD calls for free antigen tests and increased PCR capacity

People Before Profit TD Brid Smith blamed the Government for its inaction, causing chaos over the Christmas period.
TD calls for free antigen tests and increased PCR capacity

There is an urgent need for free Covid-19 antigen tests, along with the ramping up of the PCR testing system, according to People Before Profit TD, Brid Smith.

She has blamed Government inaction on causing chaos over the Christmas period, with many people unable to access PCR tests.

Speaking to Newstalk, Ms Smith insisted that instead of telling the public that the market will reduce the price of antigen tests, the Government should now make them freely available.

"I think when the Government say there is going to be a huge alliance on antigen testing in the middle of this Covid surge, they need to support people to be able to follow their guidelines.

"If they want us to do antigen testing they are going to have to provide them to people for free."

She said it would make a lot of sense in terms of public health to do so.

Her comments come as 23,281 new cases of Covid-19 were reported on Saturday - the highest figure recorded since the pandemic began.

Booster vaccine

The Department of Health also confirmed there are currently 656 people in hospital with the virus, down 26, while 85 people are in ICU.

Meanwhile, efforts to slow the spread of the Omicron variant are gathering pace as the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly announced an acceleration of the booster vaccine programme.

Originally it was planned that the 16 to 29-year-old age group would be able to get their booster from January 10th, however, they will now be able to register for the jab from tomorrow.

Earlier today, Mr Donnelly denied the new Covid-19 testing and close contact measures are confusing.

As reported in the Irish Examiner, Mr Donnelly's comments come despite warnings from health experts that the updated guidelines are “blurred”.

Medics now fear that long delays for access to PCR testing, coupled with the new guidance that people under the age of 40 should have a positive antigen test before getting a PCR, will cause people to lose patience and not follow guidance to self-isolate.

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