Stephen Keogh of Shannon Chamber with RocDoc Chief Executive, David Rock, at the RocDoc testing centre in Shannon | PICTURE: Diarmuid Greene
A SURGE in demand for Covid-19 PCR tests has seen the HSE agree a deal with a private firm to allow the public to access swabs.
More than 1,000 people a day across Limerick are seeking coronavirus tests using the facility in the Ballysimon Road, with a local councillor saying appointments are “maxed out” in the city.
Now, in a bid to meet the demand, health bosses have made free appointments available at the RocDoc drive-thru facility at Shannon Airport.
Normally, these would cost €95 a time and are reserved for people who need a negative test to travel.
But with Covid-19 cases surging, and fears growing around the new variant of the disease, the HSE has acted to provide free walk-in capacity in Shannon, available to patients across the region who book on the internet.
A spokesperson for HSE Mid-West Community Healthcare confirmed that RocDoc last week offered 300 tests a day, with this number expected to ramp up to 1,000 daily.
The information came to light following a question from Labour councillor Conor Sheehan at a private briefing with the health service.
While he has welcomed the provision of services at Shannon, he wants to see more public testing made available in the city.
“If you look at the testing going on, the facility in Ballysimon [Road] is fantastic, but it’s maxed out. They need to urgently secure capacity in terms of additional PCR testing here in Limerick city. The RocDoc facility is fine if you’ve access to a private car. But I’m concerned about people who mightn’t be coming forward for testing such as those in marginalised groups like migrants,” he said.
Councillor Sheehan warned that if people do face delays in getting a test, then we will not see the true level of Covid-19 in the community.
“If you have people waiting three or four days before a negative test is confirmed, these are three or four days they mightn’t be getting paid from their employer. They should look at other private providers too,” said the Labour member.
Patients who are symptomatic are advised to book a test online through the HSE’s website.
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