Journalist Fintan Walsh, right, at the Gaelic Grounds Covid-19 test centre with a member of the team
THE DAUNTING Covid-19 swab test. It is possible that you may one day—be it in two weeks’ or two months’ time—have to leave the sanctuary of your comfy self-isolation, to find out if you are going to be the next number on the Department of Health’s dashboard.
And while the thought is daunting and nerve-shattering, it is a necessity and a civic duty to ensure that all the positives are recorded in order to inhibit the spread of the virus that has claimed over 70 lives in Ireland this month.
But the process is quick, simple and safe, and the first week of the drive-through test centre at the Gaelic Grounds proved to run smoothly.
This journalist and photographer Adrian Butler were able to get a first-hand insight into how this novel protocol is carried out.
Before you immerse yourself in the driver’s seat, remember you will have to secure this appointment through an e-referral via the HSE’s electronic Swift Queue system which will contact you by phone.
And in order to qualify for a test, you must have two of the following: a fever and a dry cough or/and respiratory problems. No appointment, no test.
Now, buckle up and head to the Gaelic Grounds. You will be asked to enter the premises through Gate 14 at the back, where you will be escorted by stewards towards the hallway/tunnel behind the Mackey Stand. Yes, your car can fit.
In the tunnel, there are three swab stations or testing bays, each assigned. When you get the green light, you will park in front of a booth in which two HSE staff are meticulously preparing your test kit.
You don’t have to leave the car; you just say who you are and await the nasal and throat swab which lasts a few seconds. And after your samples have been obtained, you are free to cruise your way out and back home to return to your comfy isolation.
All ‘n’ all, between driving through the entrance, waiting in the queue in the car park, and getting your test, the process could last up to 20 minutes. And while the timeline for waiting for results varies, you ideally will receive a positive or a negative within 36 hours.
Until then—even if you are not needed for a test—stay at home, maintain distancing, practice good hand and lung hygiene, and stay safe.
HSE Mid-West chief officer, Maria Bridgeman thanked a number of stakeholders for their support so far.
“The people of the Mid-West, overall society, and particularly the GAA have been huge supporters to us, and they have made available this premises which is ideal for the purposes of swabbing drive-through centre. People that attend here get an appointment to attend. We have volunteers from the GAA supporting us. Certainly, their support is incredible and really very much appreciated as is the support from everybody, from the gardai, the local authority, all the other private providers. The show of support is actually just overwhelming. It is really wonderful and very much appreciated.”
There are three test centres in Limerick city, and around five in the Mid-West.