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doing their bit Steady stream of people avail of free Covid tests at walk-in centres


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People queuing to get tested at Tallaght Stadium yesterday

People queuing to get tested at Tallaght Stadium yesterday

People queuing to get tested at Tallaght Stadium yesterday

MORE than 1,500 people took up the offer of a free test at five walk-in testing centres which opened in areas of high virus incidence in Dublin and Offaly yesterday.

A HSE spokeswoman said that each of the five walk-in centres have reported a steady stream of people arriving to avail of the free test.

"This level of activity shows that we are meeting local testing needs, and that people living in the community are keen to do their bit to reduce the spread of the virus," she said.

A high proportion were people in younger age groups.

Queue

The HSE said: "We would like to remind people that if there is a queue at your local walk-in test centre, you are welcome to come back on another time or day.

"Each person tested will receive their test result by text message within 48 hours.

"If a person receives a positive test result, our contact tracing team will phone and start to trace people they have been in contact with to arrange testing to break the chains of transmission."

People who live within 5km of the centres who do not have symptoms and have not had an infection in the previous six months are invited to go for a test.

The aim is to pick up people in the community who are unaware they have the virus.

It is likely the centres will also be placed in other areas as a means of finding people in an attempt to bring down levels of the virus.

The walk-in centres, led by the National Ambulance service, are open until next Wednesday, from 11am to 7pm.

The locations include the National Aquatic Centre, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15; Tallaght Stadium in Tallaght, Dublin 24; Irishtown Stadium and Grangegorman Primary Care Centre in Dublin; and Tullamore Leisure Centre in Co Offaly.

HSE chief Paul Reid said the walk-in clinics are part of a pilot and the HSE would see how they may be used in other areas depending on the results.

HSE head of contact tracing Dr Greg Martin said one of the biggest issues now is controlling the increased transmissibility of the UK variant.

Battle

He said this is having a huge impact and is being seen in every aspect of the pandemic. "It is almost like a slightly different battle that we are fighting at the moment," he added.

The impact was seen in outbreaks in nursing homes earlier this year and in the greater difficulty controlling outbreaks in the community.

Public health doctors are also seeing an increase in close contacts of infected people recently, which suggests people are mixing more.

It means that everyone needs to double down in their efforts to defeat the virus, he added.

The HSE is afraid of a lag effect due to rising levels of Covid which could see admissions to hospital rise again.

Mr Reid was asked about figures on the HSE site saying just six second doses of Covid-19 vaccine were administered on Sunday.

He said he was not aware of this but it could be due to delays by GPs in registering figures

Speaking at a HSE briefing Mr Reid said there has been a 9pc increase in cases of the virus in the last week compared with the previous week.

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