Minister Donnelly issues updates to Ireland's public health response to the Covid 19 pandemic

Following advice from the Chief Medical Officer, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has announced updates to Ireland’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These updates relate to community testing of symptomatic individuals and the isolation of cases with confirmed COVID-19 infection.

The government has announced changes to public health advice that start on 3 January. The guidance below will come into effect from that date.

Community testing of those with symptoms of COVID-19
Because of the large numbers of tests that are needed, we have changed the rules that have been in place on testing:

if you are aged between 4 and 39 and have symptoms of COVID-19 then you should self-isolate immediately. You should take regular antigen tests instead of booking a PCR test. If you have a positive antigen test - then you should book a PCR test to confirm. If you have repeated 'not detected' antigen tests you should still self-isolate for 48 hours after your symptoms have gone

  • if you are a healthcare worker then you should still book a PCR test as soon as you show any symptoms of COVID-19
  • if you have an underlying condition which puts you at higher risk of severe disease (or if you have a clinical concern) then you should contact your GP
  • if you are over 40 years old you should seek a PCR test as soon as you display symptoms of COVID-19
  • children aged 3 or under should be booked for a PCR test as soon as they display symptoms of COVID-19

Isolation period for those diagnosed with COVID-19

If you have not received your booster then you still need to self-isolate for 10 days.

If you have received your booster (or if you have had your primary vaccinations and a recent confirmed COVID-19 infection) then you should isolate for 7 days.

If it is more than 7 days since your booster vaccination and you are aged 13 or over, then you need to self-isolate for a minimum of 7 days since you first had symptoms.

If you didn't have symptoms then you should self-isolate for 7 days after your positive test. You can only stop self-isolating after 7 days if your symptoms have gone for the final 2 days of the 7.

If you are exiting isolation after 7 days, then you should still be very careful.

You should:

  • limit your contact with other people outside their household, especially in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces
  • wear a face mask in crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and where you are in close contact with other people
  • take an antigen test before entering crowded, enclosed or poorly ventilated spaces and prior to having close contact with other people from outside your household
  • avoid contact with anyone who is at higher risk of severe illness if infected with COVID-19
  • work from home unless it is essential to attend in person
  • adhere to all other basic public health protective measures

Minister Donnelly added:

“Disease incidence has continued to rapidly increase in Ireland, with recent daily case counts substantially exceeding the highest previously reported in the pandemic to date. The 14-day incidence is estimated at over 2,300 per 100,000 population. We are seeing levels of new daily cases in hospital that we have not seen since last January. The latest data on S-gene target failure data indicates that approximately 92% of cases are due to the Omicron variant.

“While our booster roll out programme is going extremely well, the extent to which the epidemic is continuing to accelerate means that there is still significant concern regarding the likely impact of such high case counts on our health services. Remember to layer up on all of the protective measures available to us including mask wearing, good ventilation, antigen testing and adherence to other public health guidance.”