‘It’s peace of mind’: Long line forms at pop-up Covid-19 test centre

Members of the public wait their turn in Crumlin to be tested ahead of the Easter holidays

The pitch at the Crumlin GAA pitch is freshly mowed and resembles a billiard table in the spring sunlight.

In normal times, pre-season training would be going on along with Easter camps and blitzes.

The queues of people, which extend from the car park on to the perimeter of the pitch and along the sideline, convey these are not normal times.

By the time the pop-up Covid-19 testing centre opens at 11am there are already long queues; at one stage the wait was two hours and 40 minutes.


It was chilly at first, but brightened up and it was lovely weather to wait for a Covid-19 test if you have nothing better to do on a Good Friday afternoon.

The centres were set up in disease hotspots for people who have no symptoms, but may be carrying Covid-19 and passing it on to others. That’s an estimated fifth of all people who get Covid-19.

Last week 3 per cent of all people who attended pop-up clinics tested positive for Covid-19.

The one in Crumlin will operate for seven days from Friday morning.

The tests are carried out in a tent set up by the National Ambulance Service. One half of the tent is for registering details; the other for testing, which takes only about a minute, though it can be unpleasant.

‘To be sure’

Paramedic Tracy Kelly is full of praise for those who turned up for the tests.

“They are doing it for their families and they are doing it for themselves. People have been so patient and they are really sweet,” she says.

“People are doing it out of fear and looking after their loved ones. A lot of people are trying to get home to their parents after the Easter holidays and they want to protect vulnerable people at home.”

Joanna, a primary school teacher who does not want to give her surname, is attending with her two children, aged eight and five.

“We are in a care bubble with grandparents who are over 80 and they haven’t been fully vaccinated yet. There’s very little social distancing in primary schools and the children not wearing masks, and there are definitely cases. It’s peace of mind and keeping the schools open,”she says.

Noreen Phillips (64) says she has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and is having a Covid-19 test "to be sure, to be sure. I don't know when I will be vaccinated. I rang my doctor yesterday but I am not on my list."

Eva Martin is attending with her partner Beth Doyle-Kelly. Both are hoping to visit their relatives soon.

Ms Martin (23) is hoping to see her family in Sligo whenever the restrictions are lifted. “We haven’t been together since Christmas time. I had a test a month ago and it was a close call. I had symptoms and I was a close contact but I was negative. I just wanted to be sure.”

Milton Assis says he wants to "do my bit. I believe mass testing is the response to the pandemic. We have to limit the people who are spreading the virus. It's like a chain reaction. That's the problem."

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times