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rapid tests Health minister says schools are to implement close contact antigen testing before Christmas

Donnelly also said 'we need to get away from conversations about more lockdowns'

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Covid-19 antigen test

Covid-19 antigen test

Covid-19 antigen test

The use of antigen testing in schools will be implemented before Christmas, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly has said.

As Covid-19 cases have surged, rapid testing will be used for close contacts in schools.

Currently, students who are deemed close contacts are not currently being tested unless they have symptoms.

"What Minister Norma Foley and the Chief Medical Officer and I are looking at right now is the use of rapid testing for close contacts,” Minister Donnelly said on RTÉ Radio One’s This Week.

“There has been a consistent ask from the education partners that they would like to see that.

“The public health advice is clear that schools remain lower risk environments. The vast majority of infection in these age groups is happening in the household.

“However, we do have the ECDC advice (on testing close-contacts in schools) and we will be making a decision on it soon.”

Asked if rapid testing will be implemented in schools before Christmas, the Health Minister said “yes”.

Although case numbers have surged, Minister Donnelly said “we need to get away from conversations about more lockdowns”.

He added: “That's not where we are at right now, that's like saying to a team before they go out on the pitch: ‘What happens if you lose?’

"And what the team will say to you is ‘We are focused on one thing, we’re focused on winning’. And that's what we need to do now as a nation.”

Minister Donnelly said he is “concerned” at the growing number of restaurants, pubs and nightclubs that appear “not to be doing the right thing”.

Asked if it is likely further restrictions will be imposed on the hospitality industry, he said: “That conversation hasn't been had, we need a targeted approach, we shouldn't be penalising the many outlets trading safely.

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“However, the legislative approach we took was an engagement and cooperative approach.

“So if the industry doesn’t start doing the right thing I would be in favour of more rapid sanctions, not against the industry but the outlets that are not doing the right thing”

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