Twice-weekly lateral flow tests are now encouraged

Everyone in Northern Ireland should take a lateral flow test before meeting friends and family, the Northern Ireland Executive has said.

By Niall Deeney
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 6:42 pm
A sign pointing to SMART Lateral Flow Covid testing at the United Reformed Church Hall in St George's Road, St Annes
A sign pointing to SMART Lateral Flow Covid testing at the United Reformed Church Hall in St George's Road, St Annes

While there were no new measures introduced following a meeting of the Executive yesterday, everyone is now being encouraged to take lateral flow tests twice per week following the arrival of the omicron variant in Northern Ireland.

In a statement issued following yesterday’s meeting, a spokesperson for Stormont’s Executive Office said: “We have already activated our Autumn/Winter contingency plan. An early intervention was made to stall the progression of Omicron here with additional restrictions on travel and plans to identify any spread of the variant have been activated.

“Engagement has been taking place with administrations and public health officials across these islands.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

“We await the emergence of further data in the coming days, which will allow for a scientific assessment of the variant and the impact it is likely to have. However, the evidence from elsewhere indicates that Omicron has potential to spread rapidly. That means it could have very serious implications for our health system, which is already under significant pressure.

“The situation is potentially very serious and that’s why it is vital that we all redouble our efforts to drive down community transmission.”

The statement continues: “We remind the public that the use of face coverings is a mandatory requirement in certain settings, not an optional extra.

“We are asking everyone to take regular COVID-19 lateral flow tests, particularly if you are planning to mix with other people.

“Under the latest guidance, anyone who is meeting friends or family, or attending an event or social gathering should take a test before they go. It is particularly important to test before visiting someone who is older or more vulnerable. Regular twice weekly testing is also encouraged.”