No PCR test appointments available in 16 counties as cases continue to rise
The HSE is being urged to reopen walk-in test centres again.
As of 4pm on Tuesday (23 November), there are no PCR test appointments available in 16 counties in the country.
This accounts for 61.5% of all counties where the HSE provides a PCR test service.
The counties with no appointments available are Carlow, Cork, Dublin, Kerry, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Louth, Meath, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath, Wexford, and Wicklow.
The HSE is now being urged to reopen walk-in test centres to identify more cases quickly and to help curb the spread of Covid.
Dr Ilona Duffy in Monaghan was among those calling for the government to reopen the centres.
During an interview on RTÉ Radio 1's Today with Claire Byrne, she talked about receiving calls from surrounding counties looking for test availability.
"We have to see what are the HSE going to do, how are they going to ramp up the testing and the accessibility?" she said.
"We know that, look it, this happened before with in their difficulties with the testing, but I think we need to now really go to a stage where we open up walk-in centres in areas that have high levels of Covid, and we need to just ensure that people get timely access to the testing and timely access to the results."
Dr Duffy re-emphasised the importance of staying at home and getting a test as soon as possible if people become symptomatic.
She also warned the public not to rely on antigen tests, as they could provide a false sense of security and potentially put others at risk.
"We're asking patients to ensure they have a PCR test before we can see them, and we are seeing a level of frustration and anger from people saying 'Well this is ridiculous and I shouldn't have to have this and if I have an antigen test it's enough'. It's not enough, and it's not enough because you may be putting others at risk and I think that's the big message," she said.
60,309 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Ireland in the past two weeks, while the source of transmission in around 67% of cases is still unknown.