WEST Cork’s only Covid-19 testing site is back in action this week, after it was forced to close on Saturday, when stocks of vital protective equipment and testing kits ran out.
Like Pairc Uí Chaoimh, which closed on Sunday, the Dunmanway test centre was forced to close over the weekend because it did not have enough swab test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE).
Luckily, it received new stock in time for Monday’s opening, thanks to the Aer Lingus mercy flight which arrived back from China on Sunday. But there are now fears that stocks of high quality protective masks are once more running low.
As of Wednesday night, there were 3,447 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Ireland with 255 cases in Co Cork, and 85 deaths in Ireland.
The Dunmanway testing site relocated the previous Thursday from the local community hospital to the Randal Óg GAA Park in Ballinacarriga and is testing 120 people a day.
A source said an estimated 90% of the lab tests were coming back ‘negative’ for Covid-19.
While there are not believed to be delays to have a test conducted, delays of up to 11 days are reported for results.
Chief medical officer with the Dept of Health, Dr Tony Holohan, said if you are still waiting for a test result the advice to remember was to self-isolate for 14 days. Each case now appears to infect an average of three people, he added.
The Dunmanway centre is now fully equipped with enough swab kits, but there are concerns that the high quality protective face masks (FFP3) are once more in short supply.
The source confirmed: ‘We have very little of the FFP3 face masks, and if they run out, we will have to use the FFP2, which are not of the same quality.’
The source said they have plenty of FFP2 masks, and surgical masks, but the surgical masks can only be used in dealing with someone who has no symptoms of cough, fever, or shortness of breath.
The supply of goggles – to protect eyes – has also been described as being ‘a bit of a problem’ because there are only so many times that the plastic element can be disinfected and reused.
The source said the recent large consignment will be topped up by deliveries that are coming from Dublin every day.
The source warned that ‘anyone who is not in the system and has not been given an appointment will be turned away’ from the drive-through centre at Ballinacarriga, on the outskirts of Dunmanway town.
The centre is one of just five in the county. The Dunmanway facility is being operated by 10-14 healthcare professionals who are working from 9am to 7pm. There is also an hour-long set-up and another sterilisation process to be carried out at the end of each day.