Public urged to regularly use lateral flow tests to fight Covid-19 spread

Chief medical officer Dr Michael McBride described the tests as easy to use and freely available in Northern Ireland.

Rebecca Black
Wednesday 08 December 2021 17:35
(Danny Lawson/PA)
(Danny Lawson/PA)

The public is being urged to regularly take lateral flow tests as a measure to stem the spread of Covid-19.

Chief medical officer Sir Michael McBride said it has been in Executive guidance for some period of time.

He described it as important to delay as long as possible further introductions of the Omicron variant.

Chief medical officer Michael McBride (Niall Carson/PA)

“It’s a simple test, it gives you a result within about ten or 15 minutes, and freely available within Northern Ireland ” he said.

“I would encourage people to use them if they’re travelling within the Common Travel Area.”

Chief scientific adviser Professor Ian Young also said testing is also important if people know they will encounter older or vulnerable people, going into high risk setting such as the hospitality sector or events where there are likely to be large numbers of people.

He added: “It’s a measure which will help to protect us all and indeed we’re not just encouraging people moving within the Common Travel Area to do that but we’d encourage people here who are planning to go to similar events and locations to consider a lateral flow test before they do so.

I think the very least that we can do is actually do regular tests ... and that's irrespective of vaccination status.

Sir Michael McBride

“It’s one of the ways in which we can try to limit transmission of the virus.”

Sir Michael said: “We’re asking our schoolchildren to do this, and they are doing this twice a week, and if we can ask our schoolchildren to do this to keep themselves safe, their schools secure, then I think the very least that we can do is actually do regular tests… and that’s irrespective of vaccination status.”

Dr Brid Farrell, from the Public Health Agency said they have found lateral flow tests “incredibly effective”.

“If you get a positive lateral flow test you get an immediate PCR and you self isolate until the results come through,” she said.

“Particularly for the one third of the population who get asymptomatic Covid, lateral flow testing is one of the ways we can prevent transmission to other people.”

Dr Farrell said the contact tracing team has been busy and expect to get busier over the next couple of weeks.

She described the levels of community transmission with the Delta variant as very high.

She explained all those who get a positive PCR test are contacted by their contact tracing team for a further test, and where a high risk of Omicron is suspected, they do a further test to ascertain if it is.

Those who test positive are asked to isolate for 10 days, and up to 14 for the more vulnerable.

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