Element of risk in changing close contact rules – Health Minister

The Health Minister has admitted there’s an element of risk to changing the isolation rules for close contacts.

The cabinet is looking at scrapping the need for contacts who’ve got a booster and don’t have symptoms to stay at home.

The isolation period for anyone who tests positive for Covid is also set to be cut from 10 to 7 days.

Minister Stephen Donnelly says relaxing the rules for close contacts comes with some risk.

“I think it is fair to say that there is an element of risk, we’re always balancing these things.

“We’ve seen the ECDC advice, and undoubtably if we relax the rules on close contacts it does add an element of risk.

“I think what we’re really seeing right now is an endorsement of the booster campaign, and an endorsement of the national effort.”

Ministers will also discuss changes in the use of antigen tests, in an effort to reduce pressure on PCR testing capacity.

Someone with a positive antigen test result will also no longer need a PCR to confirm their infection.

By Friday, those with positive antigen test results can record their infection status themselves on the HSE website.

Liam Fanning, Professor of Imm-uno-virology at UCC, says greater recognition of antigen tests is a positive step forward.

“This is most welcome news, I suppose it’s a bit late and it’s a pity we didn’t have this infrastructure last May.

“Nonetheless, it is very welcome news and I think it will facilitate an awful lot of individuals taking responsibility for their infection, and managing it within the public health guidelines and managing it  within the public health guidelines and protecting themselves and others.

“This is very welcome news.”

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