Digital Desk Staff
The HSE plans to triple its capacity for antigen testing this week, as Covid cases continue to rise.
350,000 antigen tests are set to be posted out to people under 40 who display symptoms, or are a close contact.
This follows new guidelines which encourage those in that age group to produce a positive antigen test before requesting a PCR.
Speaking to Newstalk, Damien McCallion, head of the HSE's vaccination programme says antigen tests can be requested via their website.
"Symptomatic people aged 4-39 will now be using antigen tests, they will be available to them through the HSE website in the same way you would have booked a PCR test before."
"They will be sent out directly to their home address if they are symptomatic or a close contact."
Elsewhere, a small number of clinics have begun administering third doses to 16-29 year olds today in Tipperary, Clare and Limerick.
McCallion says the rollout will be expanded over the coming days. He added that it will be a booking system where people can select their own appointment rather than it being issued to them.
The news comes as a further 17,071 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed by the Department of Health.
As of 8am on Sunday morning, 717 Covid-positive patients were in hospital, of whom 87 were in intensive care.
On Sunday, Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said that the country begins 2022 in a “stronger position thanks to vaccines and effective new treatments”.
“Our case numbers are high and concerning, but good to see the rate of hospitalisations has fallen dramatically compared to this time last year,” he tweeted.
Mr Donnelly said that the Government had “invested a lot in building capacity”.
He said: “More ICU beds will open this year and I brought a proposal to Cabinet to increase overall critical care capacity to 446 beds. Our legacy deficit is being addressed, and we are funding as many ICU beds as the HSE can open.”