The HSE has started using the Pairc Ui Chaoimh stadium in Cork as a Covid-19 testing centre with up to 1,000 people to be processed each day.
Hundreds of people queued in cars outside the Cork stadium from this morning.
HSE sources said all those asked to turn up at the stadium were people who were given referrals from their GPs.
Each referral was also given a specific appointment time so as to make the testing runs as efficiently as possible.
Cars were seen entering the stadium via the Blackrock/Marina end, driving through the tunnel, where the swab testing was carried out, and exiting on the other side.
Healthcare staff conducting the tests had been undergoing training in the last few days.
The HSE source said it was very important that people adhered to the allotted times they were given for the appointments and if testing goes well there Pairc Ui Chaoimh is expected to become the major testing centre in the region.
Currently there are testing centres at St Mary’’s health campus in Gurranabraher, and one in Mahon.
It is understood that the HSE is also looking to set up testing centres in Dunmanyway, Fermoy and Mallow.
The Naval Service confirmed that the crew of LÉ Samuel Beckett, under the command of Lieutenant Commander Diarmuid O’’Donovan, started testing yesterday morning at John Rogerson’’s Quay in Dublin.
The Naval Service is preparing to start a similar operation in Galway with the crew of the LÉ William Butler Yeats.
Meanwhile, a senior Naval Service officer who recently resigned his commission has come back on duty to help the State by commanding a ship which is also expected to be used as a testing centre.
Commander Caoimhín Mac Unfraidh has sailed the once-mothballed flagship, LÉ Eithne, into Cork city on accompanied by a number of Naval Service Reserves from Limerick and Dublin who had volunteered for the mission.
The flagship was taken off operations last June due to a lack of manpower.
However, navy engineers, technicians and civilian workers worked around the clock for 36 hours to get her fully operational.
The ship has anchored at Albert Quay and is awaiting instructions from the HSE.
A Naval Service spokesman said the decision made by Commander Mac Unfraidh and the volunteer reservists meant that it wouldn’’t have to pull other ships off important operations such as fishery patrols, drug interdiction and search and rescue missions.