November 18, 2020
Rapid antigen testing needs to be considered for airports – Darren O’Rourke TD

Darren O RourkeSinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD today called for rapid antigen testing to be considered for arriving and departing passengers in our airports.

Teachta O’Rourke’s comments come as the European Commission adopted a recommendation on the use of rapid antigen tests for the diagnosis of Covid-19. This follows the Commission’s recommendation on 28 October to ensure a common approach and more efficient testing strategies across the EU.

Speaking today, the Meath East TD said: “This is a significant development by the European Commission and warrants immediate consideration by the government here

“We have been calling for airport testing to be rolled out all year, and the government are now scrambling to put a system in place before Christmas.

“The testing system now planned is entirely voluntary, it is expensive and it is anything but rapid.

“The European Commission today changed its approach on rapid antigen testing and said ‘Member States are encouraged to conduct rapid antigen tests in addition to PCR tests to contain the spread of the virus, detect infections and limit isolation and quarantine measures’.

“Following this new advice from the European Commission, the Ministers for Transport and Health need to seriously considered introducing rapid antigen testing as part of our airport testing regime here.

“Last week, IALPA, the Irish Air Line Pilots Association, told the Transport Committee that they wanted to see rapid antigen testing, affordable for passengers and that gives results in a short period of time introduced. To date, NPHET have been of a different opinion.

“Either way, it is unacceptable that we haven’t had a comprehensive comparison of PCR, LAMP and rapid antigen testing here, which would identify the effectiveness of these different types and allow their deployment if they passed an accuracy threshold. The European Commission agrees with Sinn Féin on this.

“With Christmas on the horizon, there is an onus on the government here to ensure the testing and tracing regimes are robust and fit for purpose.

“Rapid antigen testing can form part of this system and can help replace lengthy isolation and quarantine measures, in line with the Commission’s recommendation.”

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