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New system to register positive antigen tests will be ready next week, says HSE CEO

HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid also said that there are strong supplies of antigen tests for January and February.

HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid
HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid
Image: Leah Farrell

A NEW SYSTEM to register positive antigen tests with the HSE is set to be launched next week, according to the Chief Executive of the health service.

HSE CEO Paul Reid said that the health service are currently finalising the system to allow people to register positive antigen tests, and that it is set to be completed this coming week.

Speaking to Newstalk’s On The Record, Reid said that the HSE’s entire testing system was based around PCR tests, and that a separate system had to be developed to allow antigen tests to be registered.

“What we have done now, we’re just finalising the design and testing of it during this week, is build an equivalent pathway for antigen testing to be able to register that test,” said Reid.

“The system will be ready during the course the next week, we’ll be putting it live so people can register their tests.”

When asked if the HSE was developing a system that went against official government policy, as current guidelines require a PCR test to be counted as a confirmed Covid-19 case, Reid said that they were working with both the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and the Department of Health on the system.

“We want to have the system available,” said Reid, adding that they will work with the Department on the specific public health guidance around the new systemm.

He also said that the HSE had secured “significant” extra supplies of antigen tests for all scenarios throughout January and February.

When asked about why the current antigen test ordering system was only open between 8am and 8pm each day, Reid said that they were initially concerned about the volumes of tests that would be ordered.

He said that they decided to align times where tests could be ordered to match the times PCR swabbing centres and vaccination centres opened at.

“We were equally conscious we want to see what was the volume and the demand that we were going to see in terms of antigen testing and indeed the supply that we had,” said Reid.

He added that the HSE would be examing the 8am to 8pm time limit, and will be looking at extending it further.

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It comes as staffing pressures in hospitals and other healthcare settings continue, with HSE Chief Operations Officer, Anne O’Connor estimating that there are 15,000 health service staff out due to Covid-19.

She said yesterday that hospitals are under pressure and are facing into a difficult week due to the thousands of absences due to Covid-19.

Today, health officials confirmed an additional 21,384 cases of Covid-19 in Ireland. 

As of 8am this morning, 984 people were in hospital with the virus, 83 of whom were receiving treatment in intensive care.

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