Testing

Q. What are COVID tests?
These are tests you can get to check if you have coronavirus (COVID-19). There are 2 types of COVID-19 test available from the HSE: antigen tests (home test kits) and PCR tests (done at a test centre and sent to a lab).

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you need to self-isolate (stay in your room) right away, no matter what type of test you get. There is a high risk you could spread the virus. 

Q. When should I get tested?

If you develop symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 you should immediately self-isolate and follow current public health advice and take a COVID-19 test. Please see here for further information.  

For further information on testing for close contacts refer the National Interim Guidance for Public Health management of COVID-19 cases and contacts.

Q. How do I go about getting a test?

The type of test you should get will depend on your age and your situation i.e.

  • Aged 4 to 39 and have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Aged 40 and over and have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Aged <4 years of age and have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Close contact
  • Positive antigen test
  • Underlying health condition and have COVID-19 symptoms
  • Healthcare worker with symptoms of COVID-19
  • Tested for travel reasons

To find out more information on what type of test you should get and how to get a test, see here

Q. How do I receive my test results?

You will receive a RT-PCR test result by text message. Airlines will not accept this text as evidence for travel.

If you perform a Rapid Antigen Detection Test, you will receive the test result within 15 minutes. Please see here for instructions on how to perform an RADT.

Q. Where can I view a video of the testing procedure?

Please see HSE website here for further information on testing. Videos of the RT-PCR testing process are available here. Videos on how to perform an RADT can be found here.

Q. What is the difference between a RT-PCR test and an antigen test?
PCR testing

  • A PCR test is the most reliable COVID-19 test because it looks at the genetic material of the virus. It is done in a lab and is a very reliable way of knowing if you are infected with COVID-19.
  • If you get a PCR test from a private company and you test positive for COVID-19, the lab has to report this to the HSE. This means that the HSE contact tracing team can contact your close contacts.

Antigen testing

Rapid Antigen Detection Tests are quicker than RT-PCR testing and do not have to be done in a lab. Rapid Antigen Detection Tests (RADTs) are recommended for use in certain situations. Please see HSE website for further information.

Q. I am an asymptomatic close contact who is fully vaccinated. Where do I find information on restricting movements?

For management of all asymptomatic close contacts refer to Section 7.0 of the National Interim Guidance for Public Health management of COVID-19 cases and contacts.

Q. I have taken a Rapid Antigen Detection Test - I have got a negative result, but I have symptoms. Do I need to go for a RT-PCR test?

If you have symptoms suggestive of COVID-19, you need to self-isolate immediately and book a test, even if you are fully vaccinated. The type of test will depend on your age and situation. Please see the HSE website for further information.

 

Last updated: 06 January 2022