ALL day streams of cars are making their way through the Covid-19 test centre at Whitemill Industrial Estate. Weary staff continue to take swab after swab to be sent for analysis and can scarcely believe that things have gotten so busy there once again.
In fact, it’s become quite difficult to even obtain an appointment to get a PCR Covid test in Wexford. Day after day, people log onto the HSE website to book a test at the Wexford test centre and go through the necessary questions before being told that there are zero appointments available. This has been an ongoing trend and it's one which is scarcely being acknowledged by the HSE.
A spokesperson for the HSE South East stated that the amount of tests being carried out on a daily basis in Whitemill currently, “is not far off double what we were doing in early September”. In fact, in the past week, the Wexford test centre has performed 4,140 Covid tests. By comparison, the figures for the first week in July at the Wexford test centre were just 2,067 tests.The HSE were also able to reveal that, since the operation was first put in place in March 2020, the test centre at Whitemill Industrial Estate has carried out 102,868 tests.
However, such is the demand for testing that the system seemingly cannot keep up. Over the past week, it’s been a daily occurrence that no appointments have been available at the Wexford test centre. However, the spokesperson insists: “I do know that if you try at various times during the day, you might end up getting an appointment for the following day. That’s just the way the system works, appointments are freed up at various points in the day. I don’t think anyone is coming out without an appointment.”
Acknowledging that all test centres in the South East are “very busy”, the official statement from the HSE reads: “The majority of people will get a same day appointment, if not the following day”,
However, that certainly doesn't seem to be the case. Having checked the HSE website every day this week at various different times, only once was it possible to book an appointment for the following day. At all other times, all appointments were fully booked, meaning that people who suspect they may have Covid, or who may have a positive antigen test, are being left days before they can obtain an appointment for proper testing.
Frustration is growing in relation to this. Like a punter trying to source tickets for a concert, some suggest that you must be online at the stroke of midnight, when the new appointments go up in order to be able to get one before they book out, in what seems a crazy situation.
While at the height of Covid, the HSE opened up pop-up test centres across Co Wexford, it appears that there’s no intention to do anything like this going forward, despite the fact that quite a number of people are unable to access testing within a couple of days; some even opting to book appointments at test centres in other counties. However, at the time of going to print, there were no available appointments at Covid test centres in Wexford, Carlow, Wicklow, Kilkenny or Waterford