Donegal Covid-19 test centre at Ballyshannon's Lakeside Centre under construction before its temporary closure due to lack of test kits
Covid-19 testing capacity in Donegal has been brought into sharp focus following the closure, albeit temporarily, of the county's two drive-through test centres in Ballyshannon and Letterkenny.
Details of the closures emerged yesterday afternoon after it was revealed there was a shortage of testing kits.
The HSE in the CHO 1 region, which extends across five counties, say they have been constrained at their testing sites since last Sunday March 29, due to stock limitations of testing kits.
This resulted in the newly opened testing centres in Ballyshannon and Letterkenny not carrying out any tests at all yesterday.
Limited testing at both sites on Tuesday, again due to the shortages, extend far beyond the north west.
Covid-19 test centres in the CHO 1 area including Sligo, Leitrim, Monaghan Cavan and Donegal have all been affected or scaled back.
A statement from the HSE confirmed:
“We await confirmation of the next expected delivery of testing kits and once we have these, testing will resume at the designated testing centres.
“We are awaiting confirmation of the next expected delivery of testing kits. All clients are informed of which centre to attend for their test in advance,” the statement read.
Nationally, there are significant challenges in terms of supplies of reagent for Covid-19 testing at laboratories, the HSE said.
“We continue to prioritise testing of healthcare workers and in-patients in acute hospitals and residential facilities.“We apologise to all those waiting for test results and we wish to assure the public that we are making every endeavour to improve turnaround times within the current international constraints.
“We are currently exploring the procurement of reagent from international sources.
“In addition we continue to bring on additional laboratories, some with different reagents.
This week the HSE Public Analyst Laboratory at Cherry Orchard and a Department of Agriculture laboratory have come on-line bringing additional capacity.
Testing is performed for public health as opposed to clinical reasons, and patients waiting for results should continue to self-isolate for 14 days.
Acknowledging the delay in testing the HSE say are beginning direct contact tracing of high risk groups in advance of test results.
The Health Protection Surveillance Centre confirmed last evening (Wednesday) that an additional 14 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 in Ireland died. There have now been 115 related deaths in Ireland, 85 in south and 30 in Northern Ireland.
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