Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

22.08 26 Feb 2021


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Rapid antigen testing should be considered to facilitate the safe resumption of visits to nursing homes, according to the CEO of Nursing Homes Ireland.

A review of visiting policies is now underway after months of restrictions.

The HSE's Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry says the fall in coronavirus cases in nursing homes will see visits resume before long.

It also comes as health officials work to finish up all vaccinations in residential care facilities.

Nursing Homes Ireland's Tadhg Daly told The Hard Shoulder that it is time to start looking at allowing visits again.

Rapid antigen tests should be considered for nursing home visitors - Nursing Homes Ireland

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He said: "It's probably a number of weeks away.

"We want to ensure we can get the building blocks in place, to ensure we have a very robust system.

"We'll still require PPE and infection control... and we would also suggest that antigen testing, for example, should also be considered as part of the measures."

He acknowledged public health officials do have some concerns around the effectiveness of antigen testing in detecting asymptomatic COVID-19 cases.

However, he said it could still play an important role as part of a 'suite of measures' to minimise the risk.

Mr Daly pointed to Scotland, where officials have issued new guidance on how to use rapid testing to allow designated visitors into care homes.

He stressed there is still a need to move forward with caution, and there would only be limited visitors allowed at first.

He said visitors would still have to 'make an appointment', and it would be vital to ensure there isn't large footfall through a home at any given time.

Main image: File photo of antigen test. Picture by: Kay Nietfeld/DPA/PA Images

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