HSE has no plans for Inishowen Covid-19 testing centre

Over 100 confirmed cases of coronavirus across Donegal

Donegal Covid-19 test centres closed due to shortage of testing kits

Donegal Covid-19 test centre at Ballyshannon's Lakeside Centre

There are no plans to open a Covid-19 testing centre in Inishowen, the HSE has confirmed.

This is despite the decision by the health service to ramp up the number of the tests across the country.

Currently there are two testing centres in Donegal, located in Letterkenny and Ballyshannon.

Covid-19 testing capacity in Donegal was brought into sharp focus last week following the closure of the county's two drive-through test centres due to a shortage of testing kits.

Further testing kits were circulated around the HSE's CHO 1 Area, which includes Donegal, on Saturday. Testing in Letterkenny's O'Donnell Park and Ballyshannon's Lakeside Centre have been taking place then.

A HSE spokesperson said: “On March 24 changes were recommended in relation to Covid-19 testing to ensure that testing was targeted to high risk groups and those at risk of exposure to Covid-19.

“People who were referred for Covid 19 testing on or before March 24 will have received a text confirming that their referral has been cancelled and to contact their GP if they meet the new testing criteria.

“Testing capacity has been constrained since Sunday, March 29 due to stock limitations of testing kits, however testing kit stocks have been replenished. Unfortunately there are on-going challenges in terms of supplies of reagent for the Covid 19 test in laboratories.

“This is a global challenge with major suppliers having to ration provision across the world. Every effort to procure new stocks is being made.

“Over the last number of weeks the number of hospitals providing Covid-19 testing has increased. However provision of reagent and extraction kits will remain a major challenge for the foreseeable future until the major suppliers ramp up production.

“We continue to prioritise testing of healthcare workers and in-patients in acute hospitals and across residential facilities.

“We apologise to all those waiting for test results and we wish to reassure the public that we are making every endeavour to improve turnaround times within the current international constraints.”

However, calls for an Inishowen testing centre have been gathering pace in recent weeks. Mayor of Inishowen Cllr Martin McDermott called for a testing centre, as has Donegal TD Padraig Mac Lochlainn.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn said Inishowen needs to have a testing centre.

“Inishowen needs a testing centre without doubt,” he said. “Based on our population and where we are geographically, there's no doubt we need a testing centre.”

Meanwhile, Donegal now has 114 confirmed Covid-19 cases, the Department of Health confirmed.

Monday's figures revealed that of four of the latest 16 deaths were from the North West, which brings the total number of deaths across the country to 174, with 5,364 confirmed cases.

It was also revealed that there are two clusters in North West nursing homes. The Inish Times understands that there has been a confirmed case of Covid-19 in an Inishowen nursing home.

Deputy Mac Lochlainn urged the government to provide vital Personal Protection Equipment to workers in the health sector, including those in nursing homes and home helps.

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