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Covid-19 Tests

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 14 December 2021

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Questions (480)

Catherine Connolly

Question:

480. Deputy Catherine Connolly asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science his plans to include students in private education colleges in the free antigen testing programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [61535/21]

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Written answers (Question to Further and Higher Education)

The intention of Government is to strengthen the prevention and intervention measures around COVID-19 in response to the changing context. My Department recognises the potential role of rapid antigen testing as one part of a package of surveillance and vigilance measures including self-monitoring and other public health measures.

Following public health advice to the sector from the Expert Advisory Group on Rapid Testing, advice which is published and available on the Department’s website, a once-off fund of €9m to provide rapid antigen testing kits to students in further and higher education has been announced by my Department.

The purpose of the fund is to encourage the use of antigen testing amongst students and will involve:

- Providing funding to institutions via the funding agencies to make a small number of antigen tests available free to students

- Respecting the autonomy and flexibility of institutions in deciding at institutional level how best to provide these tests to students as soon as practicable

- Developing a communications campaign for students to increase the awareness of rapid antigen testing and their appropriate use.

The fund will be made available to further and higher education institutions through SOLAS and HEA, including to the private institutions represented by HECA, with approximately 27000 students, to ensure that we promote the use of antigen testing amongst young people.

In addition to this once-off specific fund, the UniCov study continues in a number of universities.

Question No. 481 answered with Question No. 473.
Question No. 482 answered with Question No. 473.
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