IRELAND'S acting chief medical officer has said he believes that no one in the country should be forced to pay for a coronavirus test.
Dr Ronan Glynn insisted that if people are concerned they might have the virus, the test should be free of charge, no matter what.
It comes after growing fears that people who contract the disease may avoid getting themselves tested due to the potential cost.
Speaking to the press at a briefing of the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on Monday evening, Dr Glynn emphasised the importance of free and available tests, describing it as "fundamental" to overcoming the pandemic.
"No one should have to pay," he stressed.
"If [people] are concerned they've got Covid, they should have an assessment with their GP and they should be able to get a test without any charge.
"That has to be fundamental in the management of this pandemic. People need to be able to come forward and get tested quickly where they've got symptoms or where they've got any concerns."
Glynn also urged parents not to be concerned about the possible transmission of the virus in schools ahead of their re-opening later this month, following reports of a cluster at a creche in the east of the country.
"We expect there to be cases, and we expect there to be clusters in schools when schools re-open," he said.
"There’s no zero-risk environment in relation to this pandemic, unfortunately.
"Thankfully, it appears in the vast majority of cases of children who do get this disease, they do not suffer any serious consequences as a result.
"I fully understand that parents will have concerns about their children going back to schools, but equally there are a whole range of other social, educational consequences for children if they’re not receiving an education."