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Covid-19 explainer: What are the current test and self-isolation rules?


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Ireland is currently experiencing another wave of Covid-19, which is putting the country’s healthcare services under added pressure.

The rules and restrictions have changed many times since the start of the pandemic, so here is a refresher of the current HSE advice regarding the virus.

What is the advice on face masks?

Face masks are no longer mandatory. However, they are still advised on public transport and in healthcare settings.

What are the rules on self-isolation?

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 or test positive, it is recommended to self-isolate, even if you are fully vaccinated and boosted, until 48 hours after symptoms resolve.

If you get a positive PCR or antigen test, you need to self-isolate for seven days from the date of your test or from when your symptoms started.

You can stop isolating after seven days if you have had no symptoms for the last 48 hours.

Do I need to get a PCR test?

Many people do not need to get a Covid-19 test anymore and can use antigen tests to know if they have caught the virus.

You do not need to get a PCR test if you are aged under 55 with symptoms of virus and you are otherwise healthy or if you’re aged 55 or over and you are fully boosted, even if you have symptoms.

You can book a PCR test if you have symptoms of the virus and you are 55 or older and have not had a booster vaccine, have a high-risk medical condition, have a weak immune system (immunocompromised), live in the same household or provide care and support to someone who is immunocompromised, are pregnant or are a healthcare worker.

You can also book a PCR test if you have a positive antigen test result and need a Covid-19 recovery certificate.

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Where can I get a PCR test?

PCR tests can be booked online through the HSE website, there are a number of testing centres in operation across the country.

When booking online you will be asked for your phone number, address and PPS number.

If you are medically unable to attend a test centre, a GP may arrange for you to get a PCR test.

You should continue to self-isolate while you are waiting for your results.

Your test results will be sent to you by text message. The HSE website explains what your test results mean.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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