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Testing times Subsidised Covid antigen tests to cost up to €4 under proposals

This would see the customer paying from €2 to €4 per test, depending on how many tests they are buying, the supplier of the test and where they are being sold.

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An Innova SARS-CoV-2 antigen test kit (Leon Neal/PA)

An Innova SARS-CoV-2 antigen test kit (Leon Neal/PA)

An Innova SARS-CoV-2 antigen test kit (Leon Neal/PA)

PEOPLE could have to pay up to €4 for a Government subsidised antigen test under proposals being drawn up by senior officials last night.

Sources revealed the Government subsidy would see a fixed amount being deducted from packs of antigen tests.

This would see the customer paying from €2 to €4 per test, depending on how many tests they are buying, the supplier of the test and where they are being sold.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Green Party leader Eamon Ryan were meeting late last night to discuss the proposals, which will be brought to Cabinet today by Health Minister Stephen Donnelly.

Government sources said it was not possible to “price fix” a test, however, a fixed amount would be deducted from all boxes of tests, regardless of the amount of tests in the kit.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin said there were lessons to be learned from other countries about antigen tests (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said there were lessons to be learned from other countries about antigen tests (Niall Carson/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin said there were lessons to be learned from other countries about antigen tests (Niall Carson/PA)

Conflicting sources last night said it would cost €2 to €3 per test and €3 to €4 per test to the customer.

However, the subsidy will apply to multiple tests sold in packs, so it is expected that the base price per test will vary. It is expected to be around €3 on average.

The subsidised antigen tests will be sold primarily through the community pharmacy network.

The State is set to allocate around €40m a week on the subsidies, however, the final amount will depend on the take up.

Medical card holders will not get free tests due to fears that tests may be stockpiled and it is hoped around 20pc of the population will use the tests on a regular basis in the lead up to Christmas.

Mr Donnelly has been working with Public Expenditure Minister Michael McGrath on subsidising the cost of the tests and a memo will be bought before the Cabinet this morning.

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Public health doctors have advised people who take part in “high-risk” behaviour, such as going to nightclubs or matches, to take antigen tests twice a week.

Meanwhile, no major decisions were made after the high-level Cabinet Sub-Committee on Economic Recovery and Investment met last night.

Ministers and their spokespersons stressed that the meeting was not due to take any decisions and had rather reviewed a range of matters.

However there was sympathy for the plight of the night-time economy and a feeling that businesses in this sector should be protected “to the greatest extent possible” under EWSS, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme.

The payment to workplaces is due to be reduced next month, but any exemption from cuts would have to be considered by the wider Cabinet, sources said.

The EWSS is due to close to new entrants from January, and is also scheduled to continue to the end of June next year, if needed.

The sub-committee also focused on two other areas, the gathering pace of inflation and the pensions situation with continued under-provision in the private sector and demographics that mitigate against the sustainability of payments to pensioners at current levels.

Cabinet will also discuss booster shots for wider cohorts of the population at its meeting today, although no new advice, recommendations or decisions have been received from Niac, despite signals from chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan that the over-50s can expect to be offered a third shot soon.

Cabinet ministers will also sign off on a €1.5bn renewable energy project which will aim to generate one gigawatt of onshore wind energy by 2030.

The ‘Project Pearl’ initiative comes amid the spiralling cost of energy prices and rising heating bills and will aim to see an additional 200 wind turbines.

Coillte and the ESB will establish a new joint venture company entitled FuturEnergy Ireland.

A well-placed source said there will be no taxpayer funding involved in the project as the initial funding undertaken by the companies will be financed by shareholder loans through Coillte and the ESB “from their own financial resources”.

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