Sinn Féin spokesperson on Transport Darren O’Rourke TD has said that the Minister for Transport’s lack of interest in introducing serial antigen testing in the aviation sector is incomprehensible and shows no lessons have been learned from last year.
The Meath East TD said:
“There has been a considerable amount of research and advancement in the area of antigen testing since March of last year.
“But despite this, the government is refusing to consider the benefits this system of testing could have in the aviation sector.
“Recently the Transport Committee heard from Harvard Professor Michael Mina on the benefits of antigen for the aviation sector, and before that from the government’s own Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor Mark Ferguson.
“Their expert testimony seems to have fallen on deaf ears in the Department of Transport.
“While PCR testing is very valuable, it is also expensive, time-consuming, and only gives a snapshot in time, often two or three days before someone travels.
“Serial antigen testing on the other hand, is quick, inexpensive, and can test someone over a number of days for signs of Covid-19.
“We believe both methods have a role to play in the resumption of safe international travel, but the refusal of the government here to even examine antigen testing is bewildering.
“Before Christmas, I said that ‘perfect was the enemy of the good’ when it came to airport testing, after the government insisted on a voluntary, expensive PCR system that was ignored by most travellers.
“Now, as we try to restart safe international travel, the refusal to even consider antigen testing is repeating this same mistake. Antigen testing can help restart the crippled aviation sector, while also providing a level of protection against Covid-19.
“As the government now looks at measures to combat the Delta variant, I can’t understand how serial antigen testing wouldn’t be considered.
“The aviation sector is facing a huge challenge after 16 months of restricted travel, but the hands-off approach of Minister Ryan, and his refusal to introduce measures that will help the sector, is making a bad situation worse.”