Covid Test Centre in Carrick-on-Shannon. Picture: Gerry Faughnan
The HSE is asking people to be patient as they work through the large volume of referrals for PCR tests.
The Omicron variant is generating unprecedented demand for SARS-CoV-2 PCR testing both in Ireland and across Europe.
As a result, the HSE has vastly increased its testing capacity to respond to the spread of disease – in September of this year it was providing 100,000 PCR tests per week, but is now providing over 300,000 PCR tests per week and has increased capacity for 350,000 antigen tests per week, providing a total capacity of 650,000 tests per week between PCR and antigen.
Clinical referrals for PCR testing, including GP and close contact referrals, continue to be prioritised even with high demand. Some areas are still trying to clear any referrals outstanding and most are progressing through these. If you have been referred by a GP you will receive your appointment in the coming days.
A limited number of Self Referral PCR testing slots are available each day online across CHO1 (Sliog, Leitrim, Cavan, Donegal, Monaghan). People are advised to check the website. As slots become available they are released.
Those aged between 4 and 39 who have symptoms of COVID 19 are asked to antigen test, rather than get a PCR and can book their antigen tests online at HSE.ie which will be delivered to their home. They will receive a box of antigen tests and they should do three tests. They should do the first test as soon as possible when they receive their antigen tests, the 2nd test 24 hours later, and the 3rd test 24 hours after that. It is very important that anyone with symptoms of COVID 19 self-isolate, if their antigen tests remain negative, they should continue to self-isolate until 48 hours after their symptoms have passed.
HSE CHO1 Head of Service Primary Care Dermot Monaghan said,”Providing home antigen tests to this age group will ensure that we can prioritise PCR testing for those most at risk, including older age groups, those identified by their GP as requiring PCR testing, and close contacts of a confirmed cases of COVID 19 who have symptoms. PCR testing will also continue to be prioritised for Health Care Workers and other vulnerable groups.”
Anyone who has a positive antigen test should continue to self-isolate and book a confirmatory PCR test online with the HSE. If their PCR is positive, this will confirm their diagnosis and they will be reported in case statistics and included in contact tracing as usual. It will also enable them to access any illness benefits and recovery certificates needed in the future. Is someone has a positive PCR they will get information on what they need to do at www.hse.ie
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