Donegal recorded Ireland’s highest Covid-19 incidence rate last week, the Health Protection Surveillance Centre reports.
The rate has jumped from being the second lowest two weeks ago, to fifth highest last week, and now first on the county list.
A further 1,266 new cases were confirmed in Donegal between 20th and 26th February, down from the 1,328 new cases confirmed in the previous week. However, the weekly incidence rate remains high above the national average at 795.3 per 100,000. The national average rate last week was 524.7 per 100,000.
The number of confirmed cases is expected to be higher that the reported figure due to PCR tests no longer being required for those aged 4-39 years outside of a risk group.
From this week on, changes in the Covid-19 PCR testing criteria also mean that only over-55s and people deemed medically vulnerable need to be tested by PCR.
Changes in COVID-19 PRC testing criteria:
The latest HSE guidance says you do not need a test if you are:
- under 55 years of age with symptoms of COVID-19 and you are otherwise healthy
- age 55 or older and you are fully boosted, even if you have symptoms of COVID 19
There are 2 types of free COVID-19 tests available from the HSE:
- antigen tests (home test kits)
- PCR tests (done at a test centre and sent to a lab)
If you have a positive antigen test, you can book a PCR test if you need a COVID-19 Recovery Cert.
If you are a healthcare worker and you are a household close contact, you can get antigen tests if you:
- do not have symptoms of COVID-19
- have not had COVID-19 in the past 3 months
If you are a healthcare worker and you have symptoms of COVID-19, get a PCR test.
Antigen tests are not recommended for children under the age of 4.
You can also get HSE antigen tests if you have symptoms and you need to make a social welfare claim if you are off work because of COVID-19.
If you are a close contact of a person that tests positive for COVID-19 (coronavirus), you should:
- watch out for symptoms of COVID-19
- take extra care to follow the advice on protecting others from COVID-19, in case you have the virus
- If you are at very high risk or high risk of serious illness from COVID-19, you should take extra care to watch out for symptoms. For example, if you have a weak immune system. If you develop any symptoms of COVID-19, get a PCR test as soon as possible.
Acting Head of Primary Care Mandy Doyle said: “COVID-19 is still present in our lives and communities . People should continue to practise good hand and respiratory hygiene by washing and sanitising hands regularly, coughing/sneezing into your elbow and anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should self-isolate immediately.”