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Huge demand for PCR tests in past week

November 29th, 2021 7:05 AM

By Jackie Keogh

Niall MacCarthy, ceo, Cork Airport, at the opening of the RocDoc service at the airport last year. It is now offering free tests on behalf of the HSE, since Monday.

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PEOPLE with Covid-19 symptoms have been finding it difficult to secure appointments for PCR tests, such is the demand in the past week, while those with appointments have been experiencing delays of several hours at West Cork’s test centre in Ballinacarriga.

Some people with Covid-19 symptoms – who have requested through their GP an appointment for a PCR test – have been waiting 48 hours for an appointment, during which time they still need to restrict their movements.

Demand for testing is such that some doctors believe walk-in test centres are needed to meet the current demand.

And since Monday of this week the HSE has made arrangements with private testing provider RocDoc at Cork Airport, to offer free tests for the public, though still by appointment only.

Some people attending the Ballinacarriga test centre near Dunmanway claimed they had to wait two hours despite actually having an appointment.

On Wednesday, the HSE’s self-referral portal showed there were no PCR tests available in 10 counties, including major population centres in Cork and Dublin.

A spokesperson for Cork Kerry Community Healthcare acknowledged that there is ‘currently a very high level of demand for tests at all our test centres across Cork and Kerry.

‘We are doing everything possible to provide extra appointments, and we are now carrying out in excess of 2,600 tests every day,’ she said.

‘We are still aiming to provide tests within 24 to 36 hours, but there may be occasions when it’s not possible to immediately book an appointment online.

‘All testing centres across Cork and Kerry are working at capacity, and we have opened temporary sites to increase the number of appointments available.’

The spokesperson confirmed that additional testing is now being provided by a private testing provider – RocDoc – at Cork Airport.

All testing is by appointment only, and people should book on hse.ie or via their GP before travelling to a test centre.

There were no tests available when a Southern Star staff member attempted to book a PCR test in Ballinacarriga on Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, well-known DJ ‘Stevie G’ commented on a gathering of anti-vaccination protestors, at the newly-installed covered area at the Square in nearby Dunmanway.

‘You or your kid has Covid symptoms,’ he tweeted on Tuesday. ‘You are stressed at losing work or potentially passing it and your positive antigen means you want to get a PCR. You can’t get one anywhere but Dunmanway. You make the journey. And you are greeted by these protests.’

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