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20 Jan 2022

WATCH: 'Chaos' at Tullamore's Covid testing centre during the week as traffic backed up for miles

WATCH: 'Chaos' at Tullamore's Covid testing centre during the week as traffic backed up for miles

WATCH: 'Chaos' at Tullamore's Covid testing centre during the week as traffic backed up for miles

People travelling to Tullamore for a Covid-19 PCR test have experienced incredible delays over the last week.

The issue came to a head on Thursday when queues backed up for miles on all approach roads, causing traffic chaos for locals. 

Social Democrats councillor in Offaly, Clare Claffey, has called on the HSE to increase capacity at the test centre in Tullamore after she was waiting nearly two hours for a PCR test for her son on Thursday afternoon.

The queue for the test centre began at the Clonminch roundabout causing traffic to be backed up at all exits of the roundabout. Gardaí attempted to control the flow of traffic on Thursday afternoon.

"It was chaos, nothing was moving, better traffic management is needed," Cllr Claffey said.

"A huge amount of people were queuing to be tested, fair play to the staff who are doing a great job under these conditions. While the wait was long, I have to consider myself lucky to get an appointment; the vast majority of people don't seem to be able to access PCR tests at the moment and some people from Offaly are having to travel outside the county for a test."

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly announced guidance changes on self-isolation and testing on Thursday evening.

Testing advice has been changed from seeking a PCR test with symptoms to using antigen testing at home.

Those who test positive with an antigen test should seek a PCR test to confirm the result.

Self-isolating advice for those who test positive for Covid-19 has also changed.

Those aged 12 and over, who have had their booster vaccine jabs for at least seven days, should self-isolate for seven days instead of the previous advice of 10 days.

Mr Donnelly said transmission is continuing to rapidly increase in Ireland and daily case numbers are substantially exceeding the highest previously reported in the pandemic to date.

“The 14-day incidence is now estimated at over 2,300 per 100,000 population,” he said.

“We are seeing levels of new daily cases in hospital that we have not seen since last January.

“While our booster rollout programme is going extremely well, the extent to which the epidemic is continuing to accelerate means that there is still significant concern regarding the likely impact of such high case counts on our health services.”

He has urged the public to “layer up” protective measures including wearing face coverings, good ventilation and antigen testing.

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