A photo of a Covid-19 testing clinic in Ireland that appears to be operating from inside a shipping container has raised questions on social media.
Doug Leddin posted the image of the ‘Instant Covid-19 Screening Centre’ to Twitter tagging Ireland Health Services (HSE) and Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly.
“Sorry but what is this?” Mr Leddin tweeted alongside the image.
“A instant Covid-19 centre? No social distancing measures, In a very busy public car park. With outdoor portaloo beside cars. Surely not the most hygienic/safest place for Covid testing? Do they even have planning?”
In a follow up tweet, Mr Leddin described the clinic as “fairly mank” and asked the HSE chief executive to find out who had set up the clinic.
“Is this something you can look into? Seems extremely unusual and a very unsafe place to have people queue for potential Covid positive results? I believe you know who is behind it.”
One response came from a person who said they worked in a testing centre run by Ireland Health Services.
“Don’t think this is a HSE run test centre, I'm a Covid swabber and have not seen any test centre look remotely like this,” a person commented.
“Surely this is a wind up,” another person replied.
Somebody else pointed out the ‘Health Passport Europe’ sign on the shipping container, suggesting the clinic could be run by the ROQU Group – a company that caused controversy after allegedly organising a multimillion dollar deal with Ireland HSE to import ventilators from China which were never used, according to the Irish Examiner.
A statement released by PR Newswire said ROQU launched a ‘Health Passport’ and claimed it would increase Covid testing with “highly accurate results” delivered in as little as 15 minutes.
A trial was due to begin in August, according to the statement.
Sorry but what is this? A instant covid 19 centre? No social distancing measures, In a very busy public car park. With outdoor portaloo beside cars. Surely not the most hygienic/safest place for covid testing? Do they even have planning? Who is it? @HSELive @DonnellyStephen ? Odd pic.twitter.com/eYfU0VxU3M
— Doug Leddin 🇮🇪 (@dougleddin) February 6, 2021
Ireland has highest transmission rate in the world
In the midst of a third wave of coronavirus infections, Ireland now holds the unhappy title of the nation with the highest transmission rate in the world.
The country of five million has suffered only 2,397 virus deaths to date and gained plaudits for the way it handled two previous pandemic waves.
In December, it had the lowest incidence rate in the European Union after becoming the first member country to launch a second lockdown. But now it sits atop a world table tracking fresh infections.
Ireland had officially registered just over 93,000 cases on January 1 but that figure jumped to more than 150,000 by Monday.
Irish Prime Minister: A ‘tsunami of infection’
On Tuesday, Switzerland announced a quarantine on Irish travellers as World Health Organisation (WHO) emergencies director Michael Ryan said the nation has "one of the most acute increases in disease incidence of any country".
According to Tuesday's figures, there are 1,700 patients hospitalised with the virus, nearly double the peak registered in Ireland's first wave early last year.
The third lockdown has seen schools, non-essential retail and the hospitality sector totally shut.
Prime Minister Micheal Martin said last week healthcare workers were facing a "tsunami of infection".
"Unless you are involved in absolutely essential work you have no reason to be away from your home," he warned the public.
Ireland is also reporting a spike in cases of a new variant of coronavirus first identified in neighbouring Britain.
The new strain, which is believed to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, was first identified in the south of England.
Ireland announced the first confirmed case of the variant on Christmas Day.
On Monday health officials said data from the first week of 2021 showed the new variant now accounts for 45 per cent of samples tested.
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