AS OF today (Monday, August 22nd) the majority of people in Fermanagh who develop Covid symptoms can no longer avail of a free lateral flow test.
The Department of Health has said the changes are in line with the ‘Test, Trace and Protect’ transition plan, which was published in March, which it said aimed to make “testing more proportionate and targeted to protect the most vulnerable.”
Anyone who is eligible for the new Covid treatments, as well as those working in health and social care settings, will be able to continue to have access to free lateral flow tests.
Associate deputy chief medical officer Dr Joanne McClean said the plan had always been to keep Covid measures under review, “taking account of the trajectory of the virus.”
“While COVID-19 is still in circulation, levels of infection in the community are falling and the overall impact from serious illness remains low at this time,” said Dr McClean.
“Currently, the most common symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to other respiratory viruses such as flu,” she said.
“It is therefore appropriate that testing is no longer one of the main tools in the fight against the virus for the majority of people.”
Respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and flu, can spread easily and can cause serious illness in some people. It is essential that people heed their symptoms and take appropriate action to minimise their contact with others.
“If you have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work, stay home and minimise your contact with others. You should avoid contact with those considered vulnerable and you should not visit others in health and social care settings if you are feeling unwell.”
Dr McClean said Covid rates had fallen and are continuing to fall across the North, but as we moved into autumn we could see infections rising again. She stressed vaccination continued to be the most effective way to protect against serious illness, hospitalisation and death from the virus.
Finally, the public is urged to continue to follow good hand hygiene, wearing face coverings indoors, and staying at home if you have a temperature or are unwell.
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