Antigen tests could used in primary schools as early as Christmas - Stephen Donnelly
Subsidised antigen tests for the general public could also be coming soon.
Stephen Donnelly is anticipating that rapid antigen tests could be used in primary schools soon to test close contacts of children who test positive for Covid.
The Minister for Health was interviewed on RTÉ Radio 1's This Week about the government's plan for dealing with the current wave of cases in the country.
"What Minister Norma Foley and the Chief Medical Officer and I are looking at right now is the use of rapid testing for close contacts. There has been a consistent ask from the education partners, they'd like to see that", he said.
"The public health advice is very clear, that schools remain [as] lower risk environments, that the vast majority of infection in these age groups are happening in the households.
"However, we do have ECD (European Centre for Disease Control) advice and we're looking at that very carefully."
A decision on if and how rapid testing will be implemented is to be made soon. When pressed on a timeline, Donnelly said that he anticipated testing to be in place by Christmas.
The Minister also spoke on the possibility of introducing a pill used to treat Covid in Ireland following its approval to be used in the UK.
"Well, the EMA (European Medicines Agency) is currently reviewing that, and they are, specifically on the Merck drug, they've upgraded their review to what they call a rapid review", he explained.
"They haven't given an exact timeline, but we would expect something shortly."
When asked about the cost of antigen tests in the Republic as opposed to free antigen kits in the North, Donnelly noted that the government is looking into providing subsidised antigen tests for the general population, but no timeline has been set in place yet.