The public is not using antigen tests in the correct way, the chief medical officer (CMO) says.
Speaking on Newstalk this morning, Dr Tony Holohan said that one in five adults has used a rapid test in the last week and that there was a “high level of inappropriate use” of the tests.
He said that while there are situations where the tests should be used, he was concerned that many were being used wrongly.
Dr Holohan said that Nphet data showed that 20% of adults had taken a test in recent days.
“It shows that the majority of those adults when they use them are symptomatic, which is not our advice. And it showed when they got a negative test, only about one in three of them went on to get a PCR test and to restrict or isolate themselves.
“Clearly people are not adequately following the advice about how they should or shouldn’t be used.
“When they’re used appropriately, they can play a role. So what we have to do is to try and really ensure that people understand the message.”
Use them when they’re symptomatic, not asymptomatic, and respond only to a positive result.
“A positive result when you don’t have the symptoms might indicate that you have already pre-symptomatic Covid And you should not undertake whatever activity you’re planning to undertake.”
Dr Holohan said that it is “not inevitable” that there will be restrictions imposed in the coming weeks, but said that it was important to bring down transmission of Covid-19 by cutting social contacts and limiting the number of indoor contacts particularly.
The CMO said that there was no political pressure being placed on Nphet to ensure that restrictions are not introduced.
He said that added measures which have seen hospitality mandated to close at midnight will not solve the rising cases alone, but sent an important message.
“I think it’s an important signal. And the Government did more than just that. They also mandated people to work from home unless where that’s absolutely necessary. And the signal that comes from all of these things is that this is a serious situation, that’s having a serious impact on public health.”
Dr Holohan said that the likes of the UK and Austria were among the largest adopters of the tests, but were among the largest outbreaks in the virus.
He said that it was vital that people used antigen tests correctly, just like masks. He said that Nphet does not believe that people