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Should I book an antigen test or PCR test from the HSE? Ireland's new Covid testing rules explained

Irish Mirror logo Irish Mirror 04/01/2022 Ciara Phelan

The HSE has recently updated its Covid-19 testing system and changed its rules on who should book a PCR or an antigen test.

There has been some confusion in recent days since the changes came into force as there are now different rules depending on your age.

Who should book a PCR test?

You can book a PCR test online if:

  • Are over the age of 39 and have symptoms of Covid

  • Are booking for a child who is under the age of 4 and who has symptoms of Covid

  • Book a PCR if you have had a positive antigen test in the past 24 hours

  • Are a healthcare worker

Who should book an antigen test?

According to the HSE, a person should book antigen tests if they are aged between 4 to 39 years of age and have symptoms of Covid-19.

The HSE is telling people if they are in this age group to not book a PCR test unless you get a positive antigen test result.

Antigen tests can be ordered for free online from the HSE and they advise to only book 1 kit per person.

The HSE has said people should follow this advice even if they had their first round of Covid-19 vaccines, a booster, or a positive PCR test in the past 3 months.

The HSE has said people aged between 4 and 39 years of age need to self test themselves with three antigen tests.

They advise people to do the first antigen test as soon as possible, the second test 24 hours later and the third test, 24 hours after the second test.

The HSE states: “If any of your antigen tests are positive, you need to self-isolate (stay in your room) and book a PCR test.

“If you get 3 negative (not detected) antigen test results, continue to self-isolate until you have not had symptoms for 48 hours.

“You should also report your negative antigen results online.

“This helps us learn more about antigen testing.

“A negative antigen test does not mean that you do not have Covid-19.”

People can report their negative HSE antigen test here.

The HSE has said if you are aged over 39 and have symptoms of Covid then these people should book a PCR test and not book an antigen test.

The HSE has said that people should start self-isolating as soon as they notice symptoms of Covid.

Children aged under 4 with Covid symptoms

According to the HSE, if a child is aged under 4 and has symptoms of Covid-19, book a PCR test for them and do not book antigen tests.

The website states: “You also need to keep them at home and isolate them from other people.

“Follow this advice even if your child had a positive PCR test in the past 3 months.”

The HSE is also urging the wider public to use antigen tests with the CE quality standards mark on packaging.

It means the product conforms to European safety standards and performance.


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