TD calls for extra test centres in Donegal as Covid rate rises in the county

TD calls for extra test centres in Donegal as Covid rate rises in the county

Digital Desk Staff

Updated at 12:08

There are calls for extra walk-in Covid test centres to be set up in Donegal in the coming weeks.

Local politicians met the Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly and chief medical officer last night amid concern over the level of infection there.

Donegal currently has the highest incidence rate of coronavirus in the country.

Last night's meeting heard suggestions for antigen testing to be piloted in local schools and for more vaccination centres.

Speaking to Newstalk, Fine Gael TD for Donegal, Joe McHugh, said the extra test centres need to be up and running as soon as possible: “The timeframe that was given in the presentation by Dr Holohan was around ten days.

“If you consider there is a lag of 14 days, it is going to be very difficult to see the benefits from that right away.”

He said the test centres are going to have to happen “really quickly” in the coming weeks as the virus continues to spread in the county.

It comes as the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and State chief medical officer Tony Holohan met senior health officials and local Donegal politicians on Saturday evening over the high coronavirus rate in the county.

As The Irish Times reports, the discussion centred on what further supports can be put in place to tackle elevated infection numbers in the county. Following the virtual gathering the Minister said it had been positive exchange and that the good work done to date could be further supported.

During the meeting Mr Donnelly and Dr Holohan focused on the rise in county cases with local TDs and Senators. Fine Gael TD Joe McHugh welcomed the meeting which was scheduled for 6pm.

Dr Holohan said on Friday that Donegal needed to “turn around” its high infection rates.

Incidence of the virus in the county has been almost continually above the national average since last September and stands at almost 300 cases per 100,000, compared to 127 nationally. In Milford, the incidence stands at 675 and in Letterkenny it is 600.

Gardaí in the county alerted the public of the need to plan their activities over the weekend. They said that if a driver is found in breach of the non-essential travel regulations, he/she and all adult passengers will be fined.

Cross-border activity

The meeting in Donegal came as a further three coronavirus-related deaths and 569 confirmed Covid-19 cases were reported in the State on Saturday.

Of the cases reported by the National Public Health Emergency Team (Nphet), 268 were men and 290 were women, while 78 per cent were under 45 years of age. The median age was 26.

As of 8am on Saturday, there were 123 patients in hospital with Covid-19, with 41 in intensive care.

There were five additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

As of Thursday, more than 1.5 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines have been administered in the State. A total of 1,097,742 have received their first dose and 430,102 people have received their second dose.

Ninety more Covid-19 cases were confirmed in Northern Ireland while there were no further deaths of people who had previously tested positive.

The Health Service Executive and Public Health Agency in Northern Ireland are urging people to stick to key public health advice over the coming weeks, particularly with regard to cross-Border activity.

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