Ireland’s first rural walk-in Covid-19 test centre has opened in West Cork with high demand for tests reported throughout its first day of operations.
People drove to the facility in Dunmanway from across the county, and from the city and its western suburbs, to avail of free Covid-19 tests without an appointment. They should get their results by text within about two days.
While pop-up testing centres have been established temporarily in various Covid-19 hotspots, these walk-in/drive-in facilities have been established alongside existing appointment-only Covid-19 test centres.
The West Cork facility is operating alongside and in parallel with the existing testing centre which has been operating for some time at the town’s Randal Óg GAA Club complex.
The service, one of a handful of walk-in centres which are being piloted across the country, will be available daily from 9am to 5pm, until April 20, with the exception of Sunday.
The most recent statistics from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre show that the 14-day cumulative incidence rate per 100,000 population of confirmed cases of Covid-19, between March 30 and April 12, was 55.4 in Cork and 37.9 in Kerry — well below the national figure of 131.7.
But public health experts say there is no room for complacency.
Priscilla Lynch, the HSE’s head of service for health and wellbeing, with Cork and Kerry Community Healthcare, described the walk-in facilities as “a real public health asset”.
And she said the fact that there was a constant flow of people through the country’s first rural walk-in centre yesterday proves that there is a strong demand from the public for such a service.
“The steady flow of people through the centre indicates to us that people want this option,” she said.
“It is free, it is safe, effective and very quick.
“We would like to make this kind of service as accessible as possible.
“The HSE will look at the outcomes from this, and from the other pilot walk-in test centres, and will assess the positivity rates and other measures, but certainly, we will be advocating for this kind of service to be part of the wider testing service.
“We have an agile Covid testing service and we can flex to meet the demand that is there.”
Ms Lynch said staff at the Dunmanway facility have also found an increased openness and willingness from people to be tested.
All those who arrived yesterday had different reasons for presenting, but Ms Lynch said they all had the same goal — to help keep infection rates low.
She also acknowledged the support of the local community and of Lynn Holland and Gabriel Crowley, in particular, for their help in establishing the new facility.
- You can attend a Covid-19 walk-in test centre if you are aged 16 and over, if you do not have symptoms of Covid-19, and have not tested positive for the virus in the last six months.
- Tests are limited to one test per person, and you must bring a photo ID such as a passport or driving licence.