Rapid Covid testing to be piloted in four universities to aid onsite return

Further and Higher Education Minister Simon Harris said the tests can assist plans for returning to onsite education in the next academic year
Rapid Covid testing to be piloted in four universities to aid onsite return

By David Young, PA

Rapid Covid-19 testing schemes are to be piloted in four Irish universities, Simon Harris has confirmed.

The Minister for Further and Higher Education announced the move after a Government report recommended the use of self-administered antigen testing on a trial basis in schools, colleges, workplaces and within sporting organisations.

The report said the tests could allow people to “take control over their own health”.

Our ambition is to finalise plans shortly and quickly begin pilot studies in four universities

It was compiled by the Rapid Testing Group, chaired by Professor Mark Ferguson, director general of Science Foundation Ireland and chief scientific adviser to the Government.

It said pilot schemes should also be run in prisons, homeless shelters and direct provision centres.

Health minister Stephen Donnelly outlined the findings on Thursday.

On Friday, Minister Harris said he was very eager for rapid testing pilots to take place in the third level education sector.

He said pilots would initially be run in four universities.

Simon Harris interview
Simon Harris said the pilots would be run in four universities (Brian Lawless/PA)

“Some existing research into rapid Covid-19 testing has already taken place in our universities and it is intended to extend these studies in the coming weeks in line with the report’s recommendations,” he said.

“These pilots will provide learning on the potential role rapid testing can play as an additional tool to assist our plans for additional onsite education in the next academic year.

“Building upon existing collaboration my department will now engage further with key stakeholders including Science Foundation Ireland, universities in a position to act as potential study sites and the HSE.

“Our ambition is to finalise plans shortly and quickly begin pilot studies in four universities.

“My department will work closely with the Department of Health and the HSE on this initiative so as to learn from and contribute to the wider approach to rapid testing.”

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