A walk-in Covid-19 testing centre will open at the Regional Sports Centre in Athlone tomorrow (Friday ). The clinic will be open for five days and offer testing to people who have no symptoms from 11am to 7pm daily.
The clinic, operated by the HSE Public Health Department and local Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO ), working with the National Ambulance Service, aims to carry out between 300 and 500 Covid-19 tests per day.
“I am delighted that Athlone is one of the towns chosen for this ‘walk-in, no appointment necessary’ Covid-19 testing centre,” said Dr Una Fallon, Director of Public Health Midlands. “This will provide an opportunity for those who may not have symptoms but who suspect, for whatever reason, that they may have Covid-19. It will provide easy access to testing for our vulnerable communities.”
Anyone can attend the clinic during the five-day period, provided they are aged 16 years or over, do not have symptoms of Covid-19. Anyone with symptoms is advised to self-isolate and contact their GP immediately.
Each person presenting at the clinic will be requested to provide ID, such as a valid passport or driving licence, a Public Services Card, a National Age Card, an identification form with a photograph signed by a member of An Garda Síochána, a Free Travel Pass, a valid student identity card issued by an educational institution, or a bank card. People will also need to provide a mobile phone number to receive their test results.
According to Des O’Flynn, chief officer, HSE Midlands Louth Meath, the temporary walk-in centre will allow people who don’t have symptoms to get a free Covid-19 test without having to contact their GP first.
Currently around one in five people have Covid-19 without having any symptoms.
“Testing people with no symptoms will help find positive cases earlier and allow these people take the necessary action to protect others. This will help us break chains of transmission,” he added.
Normal social distancing measures will apply at the clinic, and people have the option of returning at another time if the waiting times are too long.
People are asked not to attend the walk-in clinic if they have symptoms of Covid-19, such as a high temperature, a new cough, shortness of breath, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste. The HSE is continuing to advise people with these symptoms to self-isolate and phone their GP straight away, who will advise if they need a free Covid-19 test.