'Lives are at risk': Cork taxi driver calls for access to free Covid-19 testing

'Lives are at risk': Cork taxi driver calls for access to free Covid-19 testing
Taxi driver Bobby Lynch. Pic; Larry Cummins

A CORK-based spokesperson for the taxi council has said that cab drivers should have free access to Covid-19 testing following disturbing reports from colleagues living in fear of the disease.

Bobby Lynch who has been working as a Cork cab driver for decades voiced concern about a lack of guidelines for those in his industry and the constant risk to their health and livelihoods.

He said that many drivers who are older and living with underlying conditions will not be returning to the business. Others, he said, are worn down from putting their lives at risk with no acknowledgement from the government.

Picture: Denis Minihane.
Picture: Denis Minihane.

Mr Lynch spoke of how vulnerable taxi drivers are when picking up passengers.

"A friend of mine who is also a taxi-driver got in touch with me," he explained.

"He had picked up passengers and thought nothing of it. Later, he got a call from the hospital to say that one of them had picked up Covid-19 and that he would need to be tested. 

"The only reason they were still able to trace him was because they had the receipt. If they hadn't he would have been none the wiser. He had to take himself off the road until the tests results came back. It was a very anxious and scary time for him, but luckily he was negative."

He encouraged anyone taking a taxi to request a receipt in the event that a driver needs to be traced.

"Those people were lucky enough to have that receipt but there are several others who likely couldn't remember what taxi company they travelled with," he said. 

"The NTA has given us no clear guidelines. The only advice we have been given is to wash our hands which you wouldn't say to the child. Taxi drivers are not considered frontline workers in spite of the fact that they are putting their lives on the line everyday. 

"They are bringing patients for dialysis and hospital appointments. We have no way of knowing where a passenger has been or what they might be suffering from. One taxi driver discovered his passengers had just travelled from Italy - at the start of the pandemic-when they got into his car."

He said that many failed to acknowledge the part taxi drivers play during the pandemic.

"During the height of the pandemic people were saying that they only wanted to take a taxi so they didn't put anyone else at risk. They failed to remember that taxi drivers are not immune and are putting themselves at risk too."

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