Four walk-in Covid-19 testing centres open today
Facilities aimed at asymptomatic cases but HSE official says people with symptoms used Tullamore centre
A dog waits for its owner as a member of the National Ambulance Service waits to test the next member of the public at the HSE walk-in Covid 19 testing centre in Balbriggan. Photograph: Alan Betson
Four walk-in centres where people who do not have symptoms can get a Covid-19 test open on Friday.
Three other centres in Balbriggan, Finglas and Navan opened on Thursday.
All of the centres are open from 11am to 7pm daily.
The Naas and Athlone facilities will be available for five days, while the Crumlin centre will be open for seven and Ballinasloe for three.
Those seven locations replace five that opened in Dublin and Co Offaly last week.
The seven centres will be operating in the new locations for between three and seven days with further details including opening times to be provided by the HSE.
People who are over 16 years of age can attend the centres without a referral from GPs.
They are open to people who live within 5km of the test centre who have not tested positive for Covid-19 in the last six months.
People who wish to be tested need to bring photo ID and provide a mobile phone number to get their result.
On Wednesday, HSE national lead for testing and tracing Niamh O’Beirne said particular locations have been selected because health officials are concerned about case numbers in those areas.
A total of 12,390 people were swabbed at the five walk-in test centres that opened last week with the final day, Wednesday, being the busiest when 2,557 people were tested.
The HSE’s director of public health for the midlands said many of the people who attended the centre in Tullamore, Co Offaly, over the past week had mild Covid-19 symptoms despite it being intended for asymptomatic testing.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, Dr Una Fallon said that 50 per cent of the people who attended were aged 25-45 and were part of a cohort who were less likely to go to their GP and more likely to go to a pop-up centre.
The walk-in testing centres were a pilot project the results of which will now be examined “to see what it yielded,” she said.
“The public liked it.”
The centre in Tullamore has now closed.
The Covid-19 infection figures in Tullamore continue to be the highest in the country, with a 14-day incidence rate of 823 cases per 100,000 residents.
The rate was five times the national average, which stood at 164 on Monday. The high figures were attributable to three factors said Dr Fallon – the close contacts of people who were infected during recent outbreaks in the town; people diagnosed from the walk-in centre – which tested five per cent of the population in one week, and some outbreaks in smaller settings.
Dr Fallon said the numbers should abate now.
“I hope we won’t get any more.The one thing we’ve learned is things change all the time and we have to change with it.”
HSE figures show that the Dublin north inner-city test centre at Grangegorman was the busiest with 668 tests carried out on Wednesday and about 3,000 over the course of the week.
The Dublin northwest centre in Blanchardstown had the highest rate of asymptomatic cases detected at 4.25 per cent of tests, with overall positivity of 3 per cent across all five sites.
The positivity rate was highest among people aged between 16 and 24 years old.
Ms O’Beirne said the positivity rate at the centres has been about 3 per cent.