THERE has been a significant rise in the numbers presenting for Covid testing at sites in Donegal in recent days, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has said.
Almost 5,500 people (5,423) were tested at the three sites in Donegal over the past seven days to Monday evening. More than 50 per cent attended St Conal’s, Letterkenny (2,946) with 1,737 getting tested at the new walk-in centre in Buncrana. A further 740 went through the Cleary Centre, Donegal Town, which is closed at weekends.
It comes as 1,054 cases of Covid-19 have been notified in Donegal in the last fourteen days. The county has the highest 14-day incidence rate at 725 cases per 100,000 population.
Following the recent surge in the demand for Covid-19 testing, the HSE said that from yesterday walk-in testing will only be available at the Cleary Centre testing centre just outside Donegal Town from 11am to 3pm. HSE chief Paul Reid said that while the vaccine roll-out was continuing at a strong pace, people should continue to take caution. He said that some Covid-19 swabbing sites now have up to 25 per cent positives on testing.
Indeed Buncrana is one of the sites showing very high positivity rates. Local GP, Dr Paul Grant, visited the pop-up testing centre in the town on Tuesday.
“The centre has been open for the past ten days and they’re swabbing three to four hundred each day – which is big numbers for a small area – and they’re coming back with positivity rates of 25 per cent. The figures are frightening,” Dr Grant said.
On Monday a total of 940 people presented at the three centres in Donegal with two more people tested in Buncrana (385) than Letterkenny (383) while 172 went through Donegal town. Buncrana is one of a number of walk-in Covid test centres opened in recent weeks to help the testing and tracing system.
Those wanting to be tested at a walk-in centre do not have to call their GP beforehand. They can arrive at the test centre any time it is open and just need to bring a photo ID and provide a mobile number. If you cannot get a test during the times the centre is open you can book online for another time.
It comes as the HSE expects to introduce at-home antigen tests for close contacts from test centres next week. Close contacts will have to collect a packet of five antigen tests from a test centre and carry out the test at home themselves. If they come back as positive then the person will go in for a PCR test.
The HSE’s National Lead for Testing and Tracing, Niamh O’Beirne, said testing has soared in the past few weeks. She explained that the surge was a mixture of walk-ins and people who were close contacts.
Yesterday morning there were 89 Covid patients in hospital – a drop of 12 on the previous day’s figure.
According to HSE Chief Operations Officer, Dr Anne O’Connor, 30 per cent of cases are in Mayo University Hospital and Letterkenny Hospital.