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Gardaí set up four testing centres to speed up swabbing of officers



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Gardaí are in the advanced stages of setting up four special coronavirus testing centres for members of the force and other front-line emergency personnel.

Garda members who have paramedic training or those who recently embarked on a short training course are expected to administer the swab sampling at the new centres.

"In some cases it has been taking over 10 days for gardaí to get tested for Covid-19, so it is hoped that the introduction of these four facilities will very much speed up the process," a source said.

The centres will be in a compound within Santry garda station in north Dublin, the Garda Training College in Templemore Co Tipperary, a unit at disused Galway Airport and a Garda facility in Ballyshannon, Co Donegal.

A prefab at the recently reopened Stepaside garda station in south Dublin was also due to be used for testing, but this plan was dropped.

A facility at Oranmore garda station, in Co Galway, was also mooted but now tests in the west of the country will be carried out at Carnmore Cross on the outskirts of Galway city.

Sources said at least two of the testing centres are expected to be "up and running" by the weekend - the ones in Santry and Templemore.

The direction to set up the centres came from the Garda Covid-19 National Co-Ordination Unit.

"Gardaí and other front-line personnel will be able to give samples at these centres where their noses and mouths will be swabbed. This sample will then be sent to a lab for testing," the source added. "It is hoped that this process will speed up the rate at which gardaí are able to be tested for the virus."

A small number of officers have already tested positive for the virus with dozens more gardaí, including senior officers, presently in self-isolation.

Hundreds of officers across the country have been deployed to carry out Covid-19 checkpoints to ensure people comply with government restrictions.

Irish Independent