Swann Acts On Covid-Testing Pressure But Rogan Is Critical

Minister seeks action on Covid-19 testing pressures.

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Minister seeks action on Covid-19 testing pressures

Health Minister Robin Swann has contacted the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, in relation to issues facing the National Covid-19 testing system.

Mr Swann is seeking action on a number of concerns, including the UK-wide online booking system that has been offering some people in Northern Ireland tests in Great Britain.

Health Minister Robin Swann.

“To be clear, no one in Northern Ireland is expected to travel outside the jurisdiction for a test. These slots have been offered by the online system because it has not on occasions recognised local requirements. The same problem has been reported in Scotland.

“I want to see this glitch resolved as a priority.

“I have also emphasised the need to urgently build capacity for the National testing programme.”

Mr Swann added: “The National system has undoubtedly come under pressure in recent days, due to significantly rising demand. These are linked at least in part to the re-opening of schools.

“I need to again appeal to the public to use the service responsibly. Online bookings are made by self-referral but that does mean they are open to all.

“Tests are solely for those who have symptoms or have specifically been referred for a test by the Contact Tracing Service.”

The symptoms of Covid-19 are:

• a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature); or

• a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual); or

• a loss of or change in sense of smell or taste.

Mr Swann added: “While I totally understand the continuing high levels of public concern about Covid-19 – particularly from parents and schools – we must protect the testing system so that it is available for those who need it.

“Common cold symptoms outside of a cough, fever or loss of/ change to sense of taste or smell do not require a test.

“The reopening of schools is a vital priority which I fully support. It has brought serious pressures for schools, parents and children, as well as the testing system.

“We can get through these pressures by working together collectively and following public health advice.

“That includes each of us continuing to do everything we can to stop the spread of Covid-19.”

South Down MLA Emma Rogan has expressed her concern about the level of supply of Covid-19 testing in the North.

Rogan Concerned About Supplies Of Covid-19 Testing Kits In The North

Sinn Féin South Down MLA Emma Rogan has called on Health Minister Robin Swann to ensure that people can access COVID-19 testing close to their homes and that adequate amounts of home testing kits are made available. 

The South Down MLA was speaking amid growing concerns over a chronic lack of testing kits.  

Emma Rogan said: “I have been contacted by many constituents concerned about the chronic lack of home testing kits available to people in the North. 

“There have been numerous reports of people unable to travel to a testing facility after being told there were no more home testing kits available. 

“We also have the bizarre situation where people are now being told they have to travel to Scotland to access testing.  

“Given the sharp rise in cases, this is deeply concerning. Testing capacity needs to be ramped up rather than delayed. 

“I would call on the Minister and the Public Health Agency to locate a testing centre in the Downpatrick area to ensure a system that delivers speedy and easy access to kits for all, and in particular vulnerable citizens.  

“He must also ensure that adequate volumes of home testing kits are available to tackle the virus and realise the extent of the spread.

“This cannot be left to a lottery.”