Targeted Covid-19 testing takes place for UCC and MTU students

Targeted Covid-19 testing takes place for UCC and MTU students

Staff at MTU who we're testing non- symptomatic students by appointment for Covid-19. Testing of students occurred on Thursday at MTU and UCC on Friday. Source: Mary Smithwick HSE

The HSE has acknowledged a “slight issue” that arose with Covid-19 testing appointment times given to third-level students in Cork city last week.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare worked with University College Cork (UCC) and Munster Technological University (MTU) to facilitate on-campus Covid-19 testing in a bid to manage a slight increase in the number of cases among the student population.

The targeted testing ran at the MTU and UCC campuses on Thursday and again at UCC on Friday.

On Thursday morning, a large number of students were left queuing for their dedicated appointment time following a “slight issue” that saw students show up at the same time.

“There was a slight issue with the appointment times when testing commenced, but we are glad to say that staff sorted this very quickly. Everyone who had an appointment was tested as quickly as possible,” a spokesperson for the HSE told The Echo.

The testing for third-level students was offered following an increase in cases among the student population seen by the regional Department of Public Health.

Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, the Department of Public Health, the third-level institutions and student representatives came together to address the increase through targeted testing.

The swabbing at UCC and MTU was carried out by appointment only by experienced testing staff from Cork Kerry Community Healthcare.

Head of Health and Wellbeing with Cork Kerry Community Healthcare, Priscilla Lynch thanked the staff involved for setting up the testing safely and efficiently.

Acting Director of Public Health Dr Anne Sheahan thanked the students who made an appointment for the free testing after receiving details from their third-level institution with details of how to make an appointment.

Dr Sheahan said that third-level students in Cork have made huge efforts in recent months to stick to the tough but necessary measures which stop the spread of Covid-19 and that making an appointment for a free Covid-19 test continues these efforts.

“This will protect you, your family and the wider community. Huge credit is due to the student population in Cork for the work they have done so far to keep Covid-19 infection levels very low.

“While we are all concerned by a recent increase in cases in the age group, you still have an opportunity to contain these cases and keep up your good work,” Dr Sheahan said.

The testing for students was free, and students did not need to have symptoms to avail of it.

Dr Sheehan warned that the Covid-19 B117 variant is very contagious, and added that Public Health has seen evidence of cases spreading because people have interacted briefly indoors.

She said that all households still need to be very careful about their social contacts.

“In some cases, we are noticing that people are building what they believe are social bubbles, however, when multiple people within one household take part in separate social bubbles or visits, then this poses the risk of a significant spread,” she said.

A spokesperson for MTU told The Echo: “We had the HSE at MTU on Thursday and as a university, we’ve been delighted to be associated with the initiative and would welcome the ongoing engagement with the HSE.

“150 students took up the offer which is significant given that so few of our students are campus-based at present and it’s also the Easter break and the offer was also specifically offered to Cork city-based students.”

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