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Children's health

25th Oct 2021

Tony Holohan warns parents not to use antigen tests on children

Trine Jensen-Burke

Tony Holohan has warned parents not to use antigen tests on children

If they have symptoms, keep them home.

We are a few days into the easing of even more Covid-19 restrictions, but as Covid cases soar across the nation, and indeed, Europe, Tony Holohan has a fresh warning to parents.

The Chief Medical Officer told RTÉ Radio 1’s Today With Claire Byrne. that he has become aware of a ‘really concerning practice’ whereby children who are symptomatic of Covid-19 are being tested at home, and then sent to school after a negative result.

However, Holohan warned that this risks missing cases not only of coronavirus, but also of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu.

“We’re at the start of what might be the flu season, so that’s a very, very concerning practice,” he explains.

“If individuals have symptoms, the advice is not an antigen test. It’s restrict your movements and get a PCR test.”

Holohan said he retains concerns about the use of antigen tests by people who are not trained healthcare professionals.

“We know that the likes of healthcare professionals who are trained in the use of these tests will do the test to [the] highest standard than individuals, and that obviously is a concern that feeds into their general use.”

With the Government announcing antigen testing will have a wider role in society’s reopening this week, Chief Medical Officer denied NPHET’s opposition to its use had set back our pandemic response.

“No more than anything else, one single issue is not the cause of what’s happening, nor is it the potential solution. What we always advised against, and still do, is widespread testing of people in the general population who don’t have symptoms.”

Related: Everything parents need to know about Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)