Health chiefs urge people to attend free walk in test centres as cases rise again in Limerick

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Visualization of the coronavirus causing COVID-19
Photo by Fusion Medical Animation on Unsplash

THE Department of Public Health Mid-West has urged people in Limerick to avail of two new self-referral pop-up COVID-19 testing clinics, after around 100 new cases were identified in the region yesterday.

Local public health officials said 85 cases were identified in Limerick, 10 in Clare, and less than five in north Tipperary on June 9.

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On Tuesday around 55 cases were identified in the region, the majority in Limerick where a surge in infections have arisen since May 16 last.

Public Health Mid West said it was continuing to manage “a high incidence of infection across the city and county”.

Over the past 14 days, the department has recorded around 1,000 COVID-19 cases in the Mid-West region; more than 860 cases in Limerick, more than 70 in Clare, and more than 35 in North Tipperary.

“We are encouraging members of the public to avail of self-referral walk-in clinics in Limerick this week. These include Eastpoint Business Park on Ballysimon Road, St Joseph’s Health Campus on Mulgrave Street in Limerick City, GAA Grounds in Kilmallock, and the Moyross Health Centre,” said a spokesman.

The Kilmallock walk-in centre is now operational this Thursday and Friday, 11am to 7pm, and the Moyross walk-in centre will operate this Saturday and Sunday, 11am to 7pm.

Appointments can be also booked for between 8am and 4pm daily for the COVID test centre located at Eastpoint Business Park, Ballysimon Road, Limerick, as well as a walk-in service.

Tests can be booked through the online portal via the HSE website where one can book a test limited to the person applying.

People are reminded they require photo ID and a mobile phone number in order to br tested.

Dr Rose Fitzgerald, Specialist in Public Health Medicine, in Limerick, said the numbers attending self-referral clinics have “helped our team to chart the disease in the region, allowing us to step in and break multiple chains of transmission”.

“However, we are still concerned about the prevalence of infection, particularly in Limerick city, and we are urging the public to be extra conscious of adhering to Public Health guidelines when meeting others.”

“Wearing a mask and socially distancing has proven to significantly limit the spread of COVID-19,” Dr Fitzgerald added.

All Limerick cases are being sequenced for variants, including the so-called Indian strain, however “this is taking up to two weeks” an informed source said.

“This re-emphasises the need for people to self isolate once they are informed they have tested positive because you don’t want to be that person who might have this variant, because it is highly more transmissible than the UK variant.”

Limerick is still identifying “way too high” numbers at three times the national average, and needs to see a sustained period of low case numbers before social behaviours can be relaxed, they warned.

“People only need to look across the water and see what has happened in the UK.”

Despite British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent fanfare over the UK’s rapid vaccination programme rollout, concerns around the “Delta” variant could be about to delay the lifting of all restrictions earmarked for June 21, UK media reported.

The impact of pubs and restaurants here serving customers outdoors from last Monday will only be known in two weeks.

Outbreaks have been identified in workplaces and schools in the region.

It is currently investigating 52 workplace incidents involving 152 cases with an estimated 320 close contacts.

It is also investigating more than 15 outbreaks among schools and creches.

Household visits, parties, family gatherings, continue to be “a significant contributing factor in the widespread surge of COVID-19” locally.

Those at most risk now are the unvaccinated, particularly those congregating with other sin indoor settings.

“While progress is being made in relation to last month’s cyber attack, our department remains very busy managing new COVID-19 outbreaks in workplaces, schools, and communities.

“And while numbers appear to have lowered in some recent days, we can expect fluctuations, but the daily figures need to be significantly lower and kept at low levels for a sustained period of time,” said Dr Mai Mannix, Director of Public Health Mid-West.

A “small number” of Leaving Certificate students in the Limerick region will not be able to sit their exams this week, she confirmed.