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HSE Covid-19 testing centres to close as online appointment system to also shut

It marks another major step away from the pandemic measures

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Eilish O ReganIndependent.ie

HSE Covid-19 testing centres as well as the online portal allowing certain groups to make an appointment for a test through its website will close down on Thursday.

The HSE said the advice around Covid-19 has changed and testing is no longer recommended for the vast majority of people.

It marks another major step away from the pandemic measures put in place since the coronavirus emerged in early 2020.

The HSE said: “In line with this new advice, community testing centres across the country and the self-referral portal for ordering PCR tests are no longer required, and both will be closed March 30.”

Both PCR and antigen testing will continue to be used by doctors in hospitals and general practice settings for diagnosing and deciding on treatment.

Dr John Cuddihy, HSE national director for public health said: “We are making these changes 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.”

Eileen Whelan, HSE lead for Covid-19 test and trace and vaccination said: “From this Thursday, the self-referral portal on the HSE’s website, which enabled specific groups of the public book their own PCR test, will no longer be required and will close.

“Also from Thursday healthcare workers who are household close contacts are no longer required to do antigen tests. Therefore, the current antigen-ordering portal on HSE.ie 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.”

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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