Covid testing no longer required for most people

Community testing centres to close

Deborah Condon

March 28, 2023

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  • Covid-19 testing will no longer be recommended for the vast majority of the population from March 30, the HSE has confirmed.

    In line with updated public health advice, March 30 will also signal the closure of community testing centres nationwide. The self-referral portal for ordering PCR tests will also close on this date.

    According to Dr John Cuddihy, the HSE’s national director for public health, these changes are being made now “based on best available evidence in relation to managing Covid-19, recognising the high level of vaccine-induced and naturally acquired population immunity in Ireland, as well as the development of new treatments, all of which are mitigating the worst impacts of Covid-19 infection”.

    “Testing for Covid-19 will not be necessary for the vast majority of the population. For most people, if they have symptoms of Covid-19 or other viral respiratory tract infections, they should stay at home and limit contact with others until 48 hours after their symptoms have substantially or fully resolved – they do not need to do a Covid-19 test,” he explained.

    Meanwhile, according to Eileen Whelan, the HSE’s lead for Covid-19 test and trace and vaccination, from March 30, the self-referral portal on the HSE’s website, which enabled specific groups of the public to book their own PCR test, “will no longer be required and will close”.

    Also from March 30, healthcare workers who are household close contacts will no longer be required to do antigen tests. As a result, the current antigen-ordering portal on the HSE website will also close. Specific guidance will be issued to health and care workers.

    “A reduced contact tracing service will remain and contact tracing will be limited to those who have had a positive test in settings and scenarios, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities, where further transmission is likely, and could have serious impact based on public health risk assessment,” she explained.

    The HSE noted that PCR and antigen testing will continue to be used by doctors in hospitals and general practice settings “for the purpose of diagnosing and deciding on the provision of treatment for Covid-19 to a patient”.

    It added that public health teams may also decide that Covid-19 testing is required in the management of an outbreak in a high-risk setting where they believe that further transmission is likely and could have a serious impact.

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