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Croke Park to open as a Covid-19 drive-thru testing facility this evening

Croke Park in Dublin is to open as a drive-thru testing facility for the coronavirus Covid-19 from later this evening.

The GAA headquarters has been designated as one of the main testing facilities for north Dublin after a high-level request was made by the HSE.

The GAA’s director of communications, Alan Milton, has said that other venues belonging to the sporting organisation may be used by the HSE to provide testing facilities.

Following a request from the HSE the GAA had been in discussions on the possibility of making Croke Park and other venues available, he told RTÉ radio’s News at One.

The new facility at Croke Park is expected to eventually handle close to 400 cars a day, meaning a minimum of 400 such tests, which will exponentially increase the State’s current testing capacity.

As of March 9, just 1,784 people in the country had been tested for the novel coronavirus, which has caused havoc around the globe.

The new service will be by appointment only, with no walk-in applicants accepted. Tests are to be arranged, as normal, by referral via a person’s GP.

Testing at the centre will be for the people in a vehicle only, who are not permitted to leave their car at any stage of the test.

The service is to run seven days a week, and will eventually ramp up to opening hours of 8am until 8pm.

Eight cars meanwhile are expected to be processed every 15 minutes, the HSE said.

“We anticipate minimal disruption to local traffic and noise,” Mellany McLoone, chief officer of the HSE’s Dublin North region, said in a letter to residents local to the stadium.

“Many people will need testing for Covid-19 over the coming months. A number of locations nationally will be used as designated testing centres. Croke Park is one of the designated testing centres for north Dublin,” Ms McLoone said.

The service is expected to see cars approaching the stadium east of the 80,000 capacity venue’s Cusack Stand, before being processed in the stand’s carpark. Testing is then to take place in a service tunnel, before cars then exit via St Joseph’s Avenue adjacent to the Hill 16 terrace.

“Many of those who attend for testing will have a negative result, however by ensuring testing occurs where needed, we will be in a position to provide services to those who need it most, and minimise the risk to our wider community,” Ms McLoone said.

Those with test appointments are instructed to have their appointment number ready before attending the facility, and to remain in their vehicle at all times.

Ireland is expected to have as many as 1,300 cases of the virus by Sunday evening.

Up until now there had been five hospital sites around the country providing testing facilities.

Additional reporting by Vivienne Clarke

[ul][b]Useful information[/b] [li]The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here [/li] [li]Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;[/li] [li]GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.[/li] [li]ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024[/li] [/ul]