Tánaiste Leo Varadkar hits out at ad about antigen testing
"That's the wrong message."
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said that he is in favour of using antigen testing as another method of helping control the spread of Covid-19.
He said that it's not a substitute for other measures but he said it can play a role in controlling the spread.
"We see antigen testing as an additional health and safety measure, it's not a substitute for anything else like masks or social distancing or isolating if you feel sick and getting a PCR test," he told RTÉ's Morning Ireland.
"It's an additional health and safety measure and that's the way we should think of it.
"So we're doing pilots in schools and pilots in colleges could be really important in helping students back on campus in September and October."
He said that while it's a positive thing that Lidl are selling antigen tests and the one it's stocking is approved by the EU, and said it's "a really good thing" that it's testing its staff each week with antigen tests.
However, Varadkar said he did not agree with an ad Lidl was running advertising the antigen tests.
"What they're also doing though is this ad, which I disagree with too," Varadkar said.
"Maybe it was a joke, but it was a bundle of charcoal sausages and an antigen test and the message that sends out is that an antigen test is something you can take, it's negative, now you got the all clear to go off and go to the barbecue, party socialise.
"That's the wrong message, if an antigen test is positive, it means that you're infectious and you need need to isolate and get a confirmatory PCR test.
"If it's negative, it really means nothing. It certainly does not mean you can go and visit your relatives and think it's all fine. It's not."
In response to the comments, a spokesperson from Lidl Ireland said: First and foremost, we have the utmost respect and support for NPHET and the Government, and have stringently followed and promoted their health advice since the onset of the pandemic.
"Lidl has been on the frontline of this pandemic since the very beginning, supporting, protecting and serving Irish communities when they needed it most. It has always been our priority to provide a safe and comfortable shopping and working environment for our customers and employees – a responsibility that we take extremely seriously.
"We welcome the Tanaiste’s comments this morning with regards to the sale of antigen tests at Lidl, his recognition of our proactiveness in offering these to our colleagues and customers, and his support of the use of antigen testing as an additional health and safety measure.
"In relation to our tweet regarding the tests, we posted a tweet in response to Dr Tony Holohan’s comment on Friday which included advice urging our shoppers to continue to stringently follow the public health advice, and drawing attention to the fact that we added antigen tests to our product range to add an extra level of reassurance for our customers as they continue to follow this advice. We urge our customers to carefully read the manufacturer instructions on these EU approved tests before use, which direct users to follow local government advice on receiving the results of the test.
"We have a very large audience of customers who engage with us personally on social media. We believed that using Twitter was the right way to gain their attention and that it was important to show that we stood over these tests, as we do all the products that we sell at Lidl.
"Our communication to date has clearly referenced that antigen testing should only be used as an additional measure to provide extra reassurance to customers in addition to following the public health advice. This is a serious issue, and we believe that our antigen tests can play a role in the prevention of the spread of this disease.
"We continue to actively promote the public health advice with regards to social distancing, face masks, hand washing etc. in our stores, regional distribution centres and offices and through all our communication channels in order to continue to keep our customers and employees safe."