As coronavirus cases continue to surge, more people are presenting to HSE Covid-19 testing centres .
owever, due to the surge in cases and a reduction in capacity by the HSE, testing centres are being overwhelmed, with many having no appointments available for the next two days.
So, here is everything you need to know about arranging a PCR test and what your options are if you can’t get an appointment.
I can’t get an appointment for a PCR test through the HSE, what do I do?
There are two options for booking a Covid-19 PCR test through the HSE – either through self-referral or by phoning a GP, who will then refer you.
Currently, there are very few appointments available across the country for a PCR test through self-referral.
There is currently nowhere in Dublin that has appointments for today or tomorrow.
It is best to visit the website first thing in the morning to try to get a test.
If you can’t get a Covid-19 PCR test through the HSE for the next two days but want one as soon as possible, you can go privately – but it comes at a cost.
Where can I get a Covid-19 PCR test privately?
There are a number of places where you can get a private Covid-19 PCR test. However, while the HSE offers the test for free, private tests come at a cost.
RocDoc in Dublin Airport, Cork Airport and Shannon Airport provides private PCR tests and also antigen tests.
A fast-track PCR test – which provides results in 12 hours – costs €149, while a test that provides results in 24 hours costs €95.
A professionally administered antigen test in RocDoc costs €49.
Can I buy my own antigen tests instead of waiting for the HSE to send them out?
Yes, antigen tests are widely available to buy. You can get them in most pharmacies and some supermarkets.
However, if you have symptoms of Covid-19 or are deemed a close contact you should restrict your movements, so it is safest to ask someone else to purchase and deliver the antigen tests to you.
The test kits can be used at home and give results in as little as 15 minutes, but they are less reliable than PCR tests.
How much is an antigen test?
A single antigen test can vary in cost from €4.49 to €7.95, with some pharmacies and shops selling a pack of five for €30-€35
I have symptoms of Covid-19 and I am fully vaccinated, what do I do?
If you have symptoms of Covid-19 and you are fully vaccinated you must self-isolate and arrange a PCR test.
The HSE does not advise using antigen tests when a person has symptoms of coronavirus.
I have symptoms of Covid-19 and I am not fully vaccinated, what do I do?
If you have not been vaccinated and have symptoms of Covid-19 you must self-isolate and arrange a PCR test.
I am a close contact and I have symptoms, what do I do?
If you are a close contact of someone who is infected and you have symptoms of Covid-19, you must self-isolate in your room and arrange a PCR test.
Even if you are fully vaccinated or had a previous positive PCR test, the advice is to self-isolate and get a PCR test.
If anyone in your household is not fully vaccinated they must restrict their movements until you receive a negative PCR test. If your test is positive they will be deemed a close contact and must get a PCR test.
I am a close contact but I don’t have symptoms, what do I do?
If you are fully vaccinated and are deemed a close contact but do not have symptoms of Covid-19, you will need to do three antigen tests, which are provided by the HSE.
If you have been deemed a close contact by contact tracing, you will get a text message with a link to a website where you can provide your details to get free antigen tests delivered to your house.
You should get them within two business days from An Post. If you don’t, call 1800 700 700.
If you are a household close contact, you need to restrict your movements until you have three negative antigen tests within five days.
If any of the antigen tests are positive, you must self-isolate and arrange a PCR test.
If all antigen tests are negative, you do not need to arrange a PCR test, but you do have to report your negative results online.
If you have been deemed a close contact, you don’t have symptoms but you are not fully vaccinated, you need to self-isolate and arrange a PCR test.
You do not need to book a PCR test if you have no symptoms and have had a positive test result in the last nine months.