Testing and contact has been a key component of the Government’s response to the pandemic. Under the guidance of the National Public Health Emergency Team, the HSE has developed a comprehensive and reliable testing and tracing system.
From January 3rd, following advice from the Chief Medical Officer, those aged between 4 and 39 who have symptoms of COVID-19 have been advised to conduct antigen tests which can be booked online and delivered to the person’s home. People with an underlying health condition and who have symptoms of COVID-19, are advised to talk to their GP. PCR testing remains in place for those most at risk, including older age groups, and those identified by their GP as requiring PCR testing.
Consideration is currently being given to the future role of testing and tracing as the need evolves to move from extensive case finding and tracing of infection aimed at reducing transmission, to one primarily focused on mitigation of the severe impacts of COVID-19, particularly for those most vulnerable to the effects of the disease and for those with risk factors for severe disease who may benefit from specific interventions.
The role of testing and contact tracing, as part of the wider public health response, has been under ongoing review throughout the pandemic and will continue to be reviewed and amended in line with the epidemiological profile of the disease, its impact on healthcare utilisation and outcomes, the vaccination status of the population and ECDC guidance.