Covid-19: 5,959 new cases reported, de Gascun says antigen tests should be subsidised

Covid-19: 5,959 new cases reported, de Gascun says antigen tests should be subsidised

The Department of Health has reported 5,959 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday.

There are 640 patients in hospital with the virus, with 121 in intensive care as of 8am on Saturday morning. Asked for clarification on whether the latest new cases figure included any significant number backlogged from previous days, the department said it did not.

Earlier, Dr Cillian de Gascun has said that the Government should subsidise antigen tests to ensure they are accessible to people who may struggle with the reoccurring cost of testing family members.

The director of the National Virus Reference Laboratory said if tests were being used as part of the State’s collective approach to the pandemic, they should be made easily available.

“If we’re expecting people to do them, they’re not they’re not cheap, and certainly, there will be a large number of families and large number of individuals that will struggle with that that recurring cost of between €4-7 per test,” Dr de Gascun told RTÉ’s Saturday with Justin McCarthy Show.

“So absolutely, if we’re if we’re asking people to take these on as part of our collective approach to the pandemic, then to my mind, it would make sense to try and subsidize that.”

His comments come after chief medical officer Dr Tony Holohan urged the Government not to provide subsidised antigen tests, warning the move could lead to an increase, rather than a decrease, in Covid-19 cases.

Dr Holohan wrote to the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, on Wednesday warning the Government would be wrong to go ahead with plans to subsidise the tests, suggesting the tests could be used incorrectly by people and result in more instead of fewer cases.

The Government is expected to ignore his warnings and move ahead with the plan next week.

Dr De Gascun told RTÉ he had not spoken with Dr Holohan about these comments but that antigen tests could have a benefit at a population level. However, he expressed concern about the “sustainability” of people remembering to take tests 2-3 times a week and underlined the importance of educating people properly on how to do antigen testing.

Boosters

On boosters, Dr De Gascun said he expected people who received the one-shot Janssen vaccine would get the booster “as soon as logistics can be scaled up”.

He expressed hope that the booster would provide long-term immunity for peopl

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