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TESTING A CRUCIAL PART OF PANDEMIC RESPONSE

Testing is a crucial element in the pandemic response and will aid the reopening of Northern Ireland.

Workforce testing is available to any organisation with more than 10 employees or volunteers. There are also a range of ways for smaller organisations or individuals to access testing, each of which can help keep the economy, education and tourism functioning safely.

Health Minister Robin Swann met with the Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Childminder Association (NICMA), Patricia Lewsley-Mooney and a childminder who is using the home testing model.

Minister Swann said: “It is estimated that 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have no recognisable symptoms of the disease. To combat this, rapid asymptomatic testing is being carried out in many sectors across Northern Ireland including schools, public transport, healthcare and business.  This type of testing uses lateral flow devices to provide a result within approximately 30 minutes, without the need for any lab testing.

“It is not only large employers or businesses that can be tested.  Individuals who provide face to face services such as childminders, hairdressers and driving instructors can also benefit from regular asymptomatic testing.”

Patricia Lewsley-Mooney said: “Registered childminders, like other childcare providers, play a crucial role in enabling parents to return to work. Access to rapid COVID tests will ensure that any COVID-19 infection is identified at an early stage, reducing the likelihood of onward transmission. I was delighted that Minister Swann was able to meet with a registered Childminder, Joan Boyd, and myself to hear how easy the whole process is.”

Free testing packs are available to anyone with no symptoms of Covid19.  The kits can be ordered online and will be delivered to a home address, or can be collected from a growing number of locations across the region.  A number of assisted testing sites are also being established which will enable people to access testing directly.

Health Minister, Robin Swann concluded: “Testing will be instrumental if we are to return to some normality.  I am delighted that rapid testing is being used as an enabler for the Irish Cup Final to go ahead this week. This is a learning event that could become an example of best practice in the organisation of similar events.

“The virus and the variants remain a significant threat to our society and we must be mindful of that.  Testing coupled with vaccination, contact tracing and adherence to public health advice will keep us safer. This is how we ensure that our recovery from the pandemic is resilient and sustainable.”

For further information on rapid COVID testing check onlinewww.health-ni.gov.uk/workforce-testing,

ENDS

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