"Slightly reduced" service for PCR testing over Christmas period – HSE 4 months ago

"Slightly reduced" service for PCR testing over Christmas period – HSE

"If you're symptomatic in terms of seeking out a PCR test, you must wait until you're symptom-free for 48 hours before ceasing to restrict your movements."

Those in need of a PCR test over the Christmas period may still avail of the service, though there will be a "slight" reduction in availability.

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Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1's Morning Ireland programme on Christmas Eve, HSE Vaccination Lead Damien McCallion noted that the system is currently under a significant amount of strain.

"Although we've increased the capacity of our testing systems from 100,000 in September in PCR to 250,000 and 100,000 in antigen for close contacts – 350,000 in total – we are under pressure in the last 48 hours," he said.

"Now, we will continue to operate through Christmas Day and St. Stephen's Day, albeit [at] slightly reduced service.

"What I would say, and I appreciate it is difficult for people, particularly coming into Christmas, the uncertainty in terms of perhaps waiting for a test on certain days in certain areas of the country – is the public health advice, unfortunately, still remains the same.

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"If you're symptomatic in terms of seeking out a PCR test, you must wait until you're symptom-free for 48 hours before ceasing to restrict your movements."

McCallion acknowledged that this advice is "really difficult" with Christmas Day just hours away at this point.

"We all know people who tested positive in recent days, the difficulty that presents for family Christmases," he said.

"But unfortunately, that advice remains the same."

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McCallion noted that the HSE is currently attempting to increase PCR testing capacity as the Christmas and New Year period opens up.

In terms of vaccinations for children, McCallion advised parents to wait until the portal opens to the public next week.

A public information campaign will be established, alongside available appointment dates for specific age brackets.