A Wexford mother has spoken out about the 'horrific' experience endured by her eight-year old daughter who was sent for a Covid-19 test after developing a sore throat and a temperature.
Emma Clooney of Kilmore has made an emotional appeal for a more child-friendly test as a matter of urgency after her daughter Izzy was 'traumatised' by a visit to the test centre in Wexford.
Emma said she wanted to highlight the family's experience in the hope that it would prevent other youngsters from having to go through a similarly upsetting ordeal, now that children have returned to school and testing is expected to become commonplace.
Emma telephoned her GP last Thursday after Izzy developed a sore throat and a temperature and was advised that she would have to get a Covid test.
'I was on the phone to the doctor for five minutes and during that time I received a text telling me that the test had been arranged for the next day at 12 o' clock'.
'I was advised to take my older son Zach (11) out of school and to ask my husband Brian to return home from work to isolate pending the test and results', she said.
'The four of us went into the test centre on Friday as we couldn't leave Zach with anyone else. He was sitting in the front passenger seat and I was in the back with Izzy.'
'On arriving at the test centre, the first thing we saw was four army guys dressed in fatigues wearing black masks. When Izzy saw them, she freaked out. She was terrified and became very upset. I tried to reassure her and told her it would be alright.
'We had to drive around the back under a makeshift canopy. Before we went around, we were approached by a person who was fully gowned-up and wearing a visor and we were given a pack which contained face masks, a black bin bag, an information leaflet and tissues so that she could blow her nose.
'To have the test, you go under the canopy, with the window wound down. This guy came at Izzy through the window with a swab three times the the length of a Q tip. It's huge. He did her throat first as I was trying to hold her while she was struggling.
'Then, he was trying to put a swab up her nose. She was fighting him off and my husband Brian had to reach in from the driver's seat and try to hold her hands down while I attempted to hold her head at an angle.'
'I was trying to hold her still while he was getting the swab. I don't know how far the swab went up her nose but it nearly disappeared. It was just horrific.
'She was crying, I was crying. She was saying, he hurt me mammy. I was bawling, she was bawling. When it was over, she was handed a lollipop and told there's another one for your brother.
'Zach is terrified now in case he has to go for a test. It's coming into the winter and children are going to get sick and they are going to have to go for a test. In many cases, they are going to have to go for more than one test.
'Izzy said that if she gets sick again, she will not go back for another test.
'We waited from 12 o' clock on Friday until 9 p.m. on Saturday for the result which came back negative. The wait was terrifying as well.
'I read in The Irish Times that they were supposed to have a more child friendly test by the time children went back to school but that doesn't seem to have materialised,' said Emma.
'Do they have to go through this traumatic experience every time they get a sore throat? It was very traumatic for her and for all of us.
'As a parent you are doing what you are supposed to do. Afterwards I was thinking I put her through that.
'I am still upset about it today (Monday). If what comes out of this is that they come up with a better test for kids, and I can stop someone else's child from going through what my child went through, then I feel it will have been worthwhile to highlight it.
'I would like to know, are these people trained to do this testing, are they trained to deal with children in a medical situation?'