Politicians will pressure the Department of Transport to begin trialling rapid Covid tests on flights in a bid to re-open air travel.

The department has failed to contact experts who last month recommended that the State introduce rapid virus tests to aid in re-opening the economy, according to the group’s head, Prof Mark Ferguson.

Addressing the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Transport and Communications Networks, Prof Ferguson – the director general of Science Foundation Ireland – agreed that it would be a “very good idea” to begin trialling rapid tests on flights, initially between the Republic and UK.

Committee chairman, Kieran O’Donnell TD, pledged that it would recommend immediately that the Department of Transport engage with Prof Feguson and begin trialling rapid tests on flights.

Deputy O’Donnell criticised the department for failing to contact the Government-appointed Covid-19 Rapid Testing Group, which Prof Ferguson heads, more than a month after it published its report.

The professor confirmed that several Government departments had engaged with the group and begun rapid testing pilot programmes, but not “transport and aviation” he added.

Prof Ferguson suggested that rapid tests could allow the Government to ditch controversial hotel quarantines and other virus curbs.


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