COVID-19 testing criteria likely to be relaxed next week

COVID-19 testing criteria likely to be relaxed next week

The Chief Medical Officer says the criteria for testing of COVID-19 will likely be relaxed next week.

It comes as the numbers presenting at test centres has fallen significantly in recent days.

Only those with underlying conditions and who are displaying symptoms are currently eligible for a test.

It comes as the death toll from the virus has risen by 38 to 444 while total cases now stands at 12,547.


Dr Tony Holohan says if there is to be any easing of restrictions, it is important the case definition is expanded so more people are tested.

He said if the government is to consider changing any restrictions before May 5, “we will want to have that more sensitive case definition in operation for a period of time, so we’re able to see what the impact of that is.

“So we’ll build our testing and contact tracing and sampling capacity and to have some experience of that before we get to the 5th of May.”

He added that restrictions on social movement in Ireland will not be lifted in the same order as they were introduced.


Dr Holohan said priority would be given to steps with lower infection risks and greater societal benefits, suggesting the reopening of schools would come ahead of any return of mass social gatherings.

The current restrictions started on Friday, March 27. They mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:

  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice physical distancing

He said social distancing restrictions in Ireland had significantly reduced what the death toll might have been.

Meanwhile, people with medical issues unrelated to Covid-19 are being urged to continue to seek help from their GPs or at emergency departments.


Siobhan Ni Bhriain from the HSE, says procedures are in place to ensure the safety of everyone presenting.