Wednesday, 3 November 2021
Department of Health
153. To ask the Minister for Health when antigen testing will be rolled out as an option for access to indoor dining and indoor events; the reason for delays in implementing antigen testing; the efforts that were made to be prepared for the scenario when Covid-19 restrictions have been extended; if his attention has been drawn to the concerns of an organisation (details supplied) in relation to the lack of antigen testing and the serious human rights and equality concerns that this presents; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53471/21]
The current high level of COVID-19 infection and the dominance of the significantly more transmissible Delta variant poses a very substantial threat, particularly to those who are not fully protected through vaccination. Public health advice remains that those who are not fully vaccinated should avoid congregated indoor settings for their own and others safety.
As the Deputy will be aware, given the prevailing epidemiological situation, the Government decided last month to extend arrangements in relation to proof of immunity for access to hospitality and other sectors. The National Public Health Emergency Team did give some consideration to the issues arising for those people that can’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine for medical reasons as part of its discussions on the 18th October 2021 on the continuing response to COVID-19 and the extension of Covid Pass arrangements. The matter is being given further consideration.
As the Deputy will also be aware, given the infectious nature of this virus and the emergence of variants, the trajectory of COVID-19 has been and continues to be uncertain and difficult to predict. This has also been the experience internationally. The National Public Health Emergency Team monitors the epidemiological situation closely and keeps all evidence and advice under continuing review.