The Department of Health has announced a rolling programme of COVID-19 testing for care homes in Northern Ireland, which will kick-off on Monday, 3 August 2020.
Under the programme, all residents and staff in care homes that do not have a confirmed outbreak of COVID-19 will receive testing. All residents will be tested on a monthly basis, whereas the staff will be tested on a fortnightly basis.
There is an emphasis on fortnightly testing for staff because they have the likelihood of exposure to SARS-CoV-2 in the wider community. Based on the emerging evidence and the trends for SARS-CoV-2 community transmission rates in Northern Ireland, the testing frequency for both staff and residents will be closely reviewed and may be increased if necessary. However, it should be acknowledged that the testing can be an intrusive and distressing experience for certain frail and elderly residents.
Health Minister Robin Swann, who made the announcement, said: "With the threat from Covid-19 still present, we must continue to do all we can to support care homes. That means protecting residents and staff." Minister Swann also expressed his gratitude to the care home staff for their noble contribution during this pandemic.