Testing Key To Protection Against The Virus

Covid-19 testing is "one of the main pillars of protection against the virus", Health Minister Robin Swann has said.

Setting out all the ways testing can help keep people safe, Minister Swann said: "Alongside vaccination and contact tracing, testing is one of the main pillars of protection against the virus.

"A number of different COVID-19 testing services are available in Northern Ireland and I would encourage people to make use of these services as required and as appropriate.

"By doing so, we can help keep each other safe and play our part in helping society return to normality."

COVID-19 testing services include PCR tests, for people with symptoms, and the more rapid Lateral Flow Device tests.

If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, you should self-isolate and book a PCR test immediately. PCRs – the most accurate tests - are available at testing sites across Northern Ireland and can be booked at: www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

PCRs have to be processed in a laboratory and individuals who are tested will receive their results within 48 hours of undertaking the test.

Minister Swann emphasised the importance of symptomatic testing, adding: "I would urge everyone with symptoms to get a PCR test, to co-operate and work with our Contact Tracing service if they receive a positive PCR test result, and to self-isolate immediately if they develop symptoms."
News Image
Rapid COVID-19 tests – known as Lateral Flow Device (LFD) tests – have an important role in detecting asymptomatic cases. This means people who are infected but are showing no symptoms and may be unwittingly passing the virus on to others. Testing twice a week and on a regular basis with LFDs increases their detection rate. LFD tests are effective at picking up those who are most infectious.

It's estimated that a third of all COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic

While rapid COVID-19 tests are not as sensitive as PCR tests, they are simple to use and produce results within 30 minutes and, with regular use, help to detect infection early.

The use of LFD testing is important as an additional measure alongside the range of existing safety measures in place across workplaces and other settings. It is important to remember that, even with a negative LFD test, people should not change their behaviours and must continue to follow all other public health and safety measures in place.

Anyone who gets a positive LFD result should self-isolate and book a confirmatory PCR test immediately. If the PCR test result is negative, the individual and their household can leave isolation and no further action is required. If the PCR test result is positive the individual and their household and all other close contacts should complete a full 10 days of self-isolation.

The Department of Health is actively encouraging employers to get involved in workplace LFD testing through its NI SMART: Asymptomatic Testing Programme. Two different schemes are available: a collect system where test packs are provided to employees for self-testing; and assisted testing where the process is undertaken for them

As society reopens and the Delta variant becomes dominant, it is inevitable that case numbers will rise in Northern Ireland. However, we are not powerless and it is important we all keep following the public health advice. Regular asymptomatic testing will help us to stop COVID-19 spreading undetected, and this will help keep the economy moving.

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

19 February 2020
Over 3,000 Calls For Help Made Over Christmas
Over 3,000 calls for help during domestic abuse incidents were made to police over the Christmas period, it's been revealed. Of these 3,036 calls, some 96 were made on Christmas Day, a time when families traditionally come together to celebrate.
27 February 2020
Fresh Plea 15 Years On From Lisa Dorrian's Murder
Fifteen years on from the day Lisa Dorrian was last seen alive, police have reminded the "small number of people" who hold the key to solving her murder that it is not too late to come forward. The 25 year-old was murdered after attending a party in Ballyhalbert Caravan Park, Co Down on the evening of Sunday 27 February, 2005.
13 February 2020
Teens Hailed For Safe Return Of Missing Woman
Police have hailed two teenagers for their quick and responsible thinking that ensured the safe return of a woman missing in north Belfast. The young boys, one of whom was aged 14, contacted police after witnessing a vulnerable woman making her way up Cavehill.
16 January 2020
One In Five Cancer Diagnoses Via Emergency
One fifth of cancer patients in Northern Ireland were given their diagnosis through an emergency assessment, a new report has revealed. Some 46,068 people were informed they had cancer between 2012 and 2016, one fifth of which had an emergency route to diagnosis.
03 December 2019
Pharmacies Fight To Stop Antibiotic Resistance
Pharmacies in Northern Ireland are stepping up their efforts to help keep antibiotics working in the fight against resistance. More than 500 community pharmacies are taking part in the Living Well service, which provides information and advice on key public health issues.