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Dublin Airport private Antigen testing begins as Dutch authorities make it compulsory for fliers

The antigen tests come as Dutch authorities have banned untested passengers from entering the country.

Antigen tests are now available at Dublin Aiport.
Antigen tests are now available at Dublin Aiport.
Image: Shutterstock/Iryna Rasko

IRELAND’S FIRST COVID-19 antigen testing facility has opened in Dublin Airport. The move comes as some countries close down borders to untested fliers.

The facility opened this morning at Dublin Airport, with the rapid test costing €89 and with results available in one hour.

The antigen test, which detects viral protein fragments in a nasal swab, is now required before travelling to the Netherlands. The Dutch Government has said that all travellers to the country must produce a negative antigen test result immediately before departure, as well as a PCR test up to 72 hours before departure.

Antigen examinations are thought to be less effective than the more common PCR and are focused on catching the illness at the peak of infection.

The Dublin Airport testing is provided by Rocdoc and is available in drive through and walkthrough facilities. It is not just for those travelling on flights, it is also available for the general public.

David Rock, RocDoc Chief Executive, said the company plans to roll out antigen testing across the country shortly.

“We have been trialling antigen tests at RocDoc for a number of weeks now and we are very pleased to announce that we are the first company to provide antigen tests at an Irish airport.

“We would encourage passengers to arrive in adequate time to get the test done before heading through the airport,” he said.

RocDoc also provides pre-departure Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) approved CE marked PCR and LAMP tests for passengers flying out of Dublin Airport.  The EU-wide ‘traffic light’ system requires all passengers travelling from at-risk regions to undergo a pre-departure test for Covid-19.

RocDoc is based in Ashbourne Co Meath and launched its private COVID-19 testing services in August 2020.

At present the State do not recognise antigen testing as a replacement for the more reliable PCR tests, Despite this Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, in reply to a Dáil question, said this week that his department were examining a broader roll out. 

“I want to see more of it. It is already being deployed, including in Letterkenny and in healthcare settings. We are working on other places where it can be deployed. I note, for example, the very wide use of it in the UK and we are exploring how it can be deployed here.

“I agree wholeheartedly that it is not in a place where it would replace PCR testing. It is to be used in places where we would not otherwise use PCR testing.”

It was announced earlier this week, by the HSE, that Ireland will receive its first allocation of antigen tests from the European Commission in the first quarter of this year.

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Before Christmas, the European Commission signed a contract with Abbott and Roche allowing the purchase of over 20 million rapid antigen tests at a cost of €100 million. 

It is recommended that EU countries use antigen tests in certain situations and settings, such as diagnoses among symptomatic cases, contacts of confirmed cases, outbreak clusters, screening in high-risk areas and closed settings.

The Commission also recommends using rapid antigen tests for population-wide screening in epidemiological situations or areas where the proportion of test positivity is very high.

It is hoped that rapid antigen testing will assist with preventing outbreaks in hospitals and other healthcare settings.  

Additional reporting by Christina Finn.

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