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Free antigen tests for symptomatic under-40s can now be ordered online

People in this group are advised to do three antigen tests over 72 hours.

Image: Alamy Stock Photo

THE CHANGING ADVICE for both symptomatic under-40s and close contacts of confirmed cases has been reflected in guidance from the HSE. 

As part of efforts to ease the pressure on the testing system, people who are at greater risk from Covid-19 are being prioritised for PCR tests. 

As of yesterday, people aged 4-39 with Covid symptoms now being asked to self-isolate immediately and take regular antigen tests instead of immediately booking a PCR test. 

People in this group are being told to only book a PCR test after they have had a positive antigen result. 

People are required to self-isolate when they have symptoms and to do the first antigen test as soon as possible, a second test 24 hours later and a third test 24 hours after that.

If the three antigen tests are negative people are asked to continue to self-isolate until they have not had symptoms for 48 hours. 

Tests are now being provided free-of-charge to people aged 4-39 with Covid symptoms, with a HSE portal now live for these people to order their tests which are sent out by post. 

The HSE has said that ordering antigen test kits online is only available from 8am to 8pm to allow for “coordination with the logistics and distribution”.

Antigen tests are also sent out free-of-charge to people who are close contacts of a PCR-confirmed case of Covid-19. Negative tests as part of this programme can be logged on the HSE’s website

At present, there is no system for people who have a positive antigen test result to report it online or to list their close contacts but this is believed to be under consideration. 

Instead, those who have a positive antigen tests result are advised to self-isolate and seek a PCR test. 

The HSE has said it capacity to send out 350,000 antigen tests per week. 

Source: HSE Ireland/YouTube

Close contacts

The advice for close contacts varies depending on a number factors, such as an individual’s vaccination status and the nature of their contact with the confirmed case.

The HSE provides a list of the differing advice for different situations

Each circumstance provides advice for the testing someone must undertake and to what extent they must restrict their movements. 

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The advice for restricting movements has changed slightly as of yesterday, however.

Previously the period of self-isolation began when someone received a text from the HSE informing them they are a close contact, the advice now states that the period of self-isolation begins “from when you were last in contact with the person who tested positive”.

“If you do not know when this was, do this from when you get the close contact text message from the HSE,” the advice states. 

Further changes to advice around self-isolation for close contacts understood to be considered amid the huge numbers of people involved.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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