Confusion over changes to Covid-19 testing system

Confusion Over Changes To Covid-19 Testing System
Dr Denis McCauley from the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said Covid numbers from the latest wave of infections seem to have peaked. Photo: PA Images
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Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke.

News that the State's Covid-19 testing service is to be wound down in the autumn have led to a "certain level of confusion" among the public, a doctor has warned.


Speaking to RTÉ's News at One, Dr Denis McCauley, a member of the Irish Medical Organisations' GP committee, said although infection numbers from the latest wave of Covid seem to have peaked, there are still people getting very sick after contracting the virus.

"I think the eventual plan is that there will be no formal mass population testing," Dr McCauley said.

Instead, "testing will be restricted only to people who we think are at high risk of getting Covid complications," he explained.

Earlier, reports stated Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly had accepted the recommendation of the chief medical officer, Professor Breda Smyth that the national testing system, in its current guise, would be wound down in the coming months.


As part of this, Covid testing for the general population will no longer be recommended and will only occur if a doctor deems it necessary or "where deemed necessary by Public Health in relation to the management of an outbreak or specific public health risk".

Dr McCauley added that he believes the only thing GPs are being asked to do as part of the changes is to recommend testing for patients who present with Covid symptoms who are also considered to be part of a high-risk group.

He advised that people under the age of 55 who are not at high-risk should not rely on antigen tests to determine whether they have Covid, but rather should stay at home is they display symptoms.

"If you have a temperature and you've a cough, stay at home for 48 hours until you are actually better. If you have a temperature, don't be selfish, stay at home."

Dr McCauley added that those who are at high-risk should also consider getting a booster dose of the vaccine.

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