Ireland's attempt at On-Demand testing

Updated: Nov 8

Putting aside NPHET's bizarre opinions on self-executed rapid testing, the Government have established a token gesture strategy towards on demand testing.

Countries should be proactive in on demand testing for everyone mingling amongst society, getting ahead of the spread. The primary approach to testing in Ireland has been reactive, targeting those showing symptoms or identifing as close contacts with a positive case. However testing shouldn't be limited to just these groups.


Putting aside NPHET's bizarre opinions on self-executed rapid testing, the Government have established a token gesture strategy towards on demand testing with its walk in clinics offering. As of June 1 Ireland has around 37 walk in clinics scattered across the country, but they are not a robust offering.

As the name suggests, these are on demand clinics not requiring appointments and targeting non symptomatic people aged 16 years or older who have not tested positive for the virus in the last 6 months. In my opinion, these clinics are notting more than a box ticketing exercise allowing govnerment to say they're doing something in the on demand testing space.


For starters the Government launched a small number of these clinics in highly infectious areas back at the hight of level 5 lockdown, when only the people within 5Km of the clinic could attend. Since then there has been little to no active promotion of these services apart from speratic updates from the media when a new centre opens up.


The HSE emphasis you can only attend the clinic 'in the same area' as you live, but is very difficult to establish what is meant by "live in the same area" and most clinics are not located within reasonable distances for people to actively seek testing regularly.


For example if you live in Dundrum or Sandyford… where is your 'same area' location… Shrewsbury Road, Ballsbridge or Croke Park? Both places not accessible directly by public transprt. If you are fortunate enough to be able to afford the extortionate costs of running a car in Ireland, it might be quicker to drive to Lucan or City West. But are these centres 'Same area'?


Either way expect to loose an hour or two... just getting to the clinic, because on top of that the HSE have warned of large queues waiting to get tested while arriving too late in the day in highly populated areas may result in getting no test at all.


So not exactly something your going to easy do regularly.

The HSE have launched a pilot booking system to save your spot in line, but this is limited to three centres in the country and the recent Cyber attack on the HSE have impacted the reliably of centres.


When you look to countries like Austria that offer the citizens of Vienna 4 free gargle PCR tests a week which can be done at home and dropped off in the local supermarket... you really have to wonder WTF are our over paid policy makers doing in Government buildings every day.


References:


https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/testing/covid-19-walk-in-test-centres.html

https://www.breakingnews.ie/ireland/over-62000-people-have-availed-of-free-covid-tests-since-walk-in-centres-open-1123520.html

https://donegalnews.com/2021/06/new-online-booking-system-for-covid-19-tests-in-donegal/