Cork school trialling 15 minute Covid-19 testing for teachers

ireland
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Jess Casey

A Cork school is the first in the country to offer teachers weekly Covid-19 antigen tests, with results available in just 15 minutes.

Working with Health Passport Ireland, a digital platform designed to increase Covid-19 testing, Bruce College staff are taking part in the six-week pilot programme.

According to the Irish Examiner, the project is operating on a voluntary basis among full-time staff, with a doctor and nurse present to administer the weekly tests.

Staff receive their results within 15 minutes via the Health Passport app, followed by a phone call from the onsite doctor.

The tests detect the presence of antigens expressed by the Covid-19 virus in a sample from a person’s respiratory tract.

According to the World Health Organisation, high-quality rapid antigen tests show “where the virus is hiding” and are considered an important complement to PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing. But, while antigen testing is faster and cheaper than PCR testing, it is also considered less accurate.

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Engineered by the ROQU Group, the app works with all types of Covid-19 tests, including swab, blood and rapid diagnostic tests.

After testing negatively for Covid-19, your status in the app is automatically updated to ‘green’.

Nursing homes

The validity of the test expires over time, automatically moving statuses from ‘green’ to ‘amber’, indicating that it's time to get tested again. A status ‘red’ means you have tested positive for Covid-19.

The company is trialling its technology in several industries, including nursing homes and hospitals.

Robert Quirke, ROQU Group chief executive, said Health Passport Ireland wants to provide an efficient way to help keep schools open.

“Having spoken with the staff at Bruce College, I know they have a strong sense of reassurance and feel greatly supported by their school.”

In its ‘Living with Covid’ guidance, the government says rather than closing schools and creches en masse, it may be possible to confine outbreaks “using robust and rapid testing, contact tracing, and isolation.”

But many schools already struggle with substitution issues , and delays in accessing tests and results can cause serious disruption to a school.

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