New rapid Covid test to be used in NI's Emergency Departments

A new rapid test for Covid-19 can return results in just 12 minutes, according to the Health Minister.

Robin Swann said a pilot scheme has been carried out in Northern Ireland, and the test could speed the passage of patients through hospital emergency departments.

He confirmed the new rapid test for emergency departments, the LumiraDX nasal swab, returned results in 12 minutes. It detects the Covid-19 antigen protein.

Mr Swann said it will enable health staff to "very quickly identify patients who do not have Covid-19".

This will help decide what type of care to provide, the health minister added.

The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has been one of five pilot sites across the UK to trial the test.

The Scottish and Welsh governments have similar arrangements in place.

Mr Swann said: "The pressures on our hospital system have been well publicised.

"One of the areas currently experiencing significant pressure are our emergency departments, where patients with Covid-19 and those with other medical conditions both arrive seeking help.

"Being able to identify more quickly that a patient does not have the SARS-CoV-2 virus will benefit staff in the emergency department and our system as a whole."

The Lumira DX testing technology has been validated locally by scientists in the Regional Virology Laboratory in Belfast Trust working collaboratively with staff in the Royal Victoria Hospital emergency department.

Mr Swann added: "Lumira DX testing kits have now been delivered to all trusts who are finalising arrangements for their use and I look forward to seeing this testing technology used to support care of emergency department patients in the coming week or so.

"I commend everyone who contributed to the Lumira DX trial locally. It has been a huge achievement to get this new testing technology to this point."