No Covid test appointments available in Westmeath on HSE site
The national shortage of available appointments for Covid-19 testing is being felt in the Midlands, with no self-referral appointments currently available at the HSE's only Westmeath testing centre in Mullingar.
As of lunchtime today (Wednesday) there were no appointments available for a PCR test either this afternoon or tomorrow at the Mullingar centre, in St Loman's Hospital.
In addition, there were no appointments left at Offaly's testing centre in Clonminch, Tullamore, or at the Portlaoise test centre.
At the time of writing, the Roscommon testing centre in Castlerea had just two appointments available this afternoon, but had lots of available slots for a test tomorrow.
Longford's testing centre, at the Mastertech Business Park on the Athlone Road, had no availability left today but had a number of appointments available throughout the day tomorrow.
The shortage of testing availability in the region comes after figures showed that, on a population basis, Westmeath recorded the highest number of Covid cases in the country both over the seven days up to midnight on Sunday and over the previous 14 days.
In today's Westmeath Independent print edition, virology expert and Athlone native Dr Gerald Barry said more could have been done to make testing easier and more widely-available.
Dr Barry, of the School of Veterinary Medicine at UCD, was critical of the fact that a town like Athlone still didn't have a dedicated centre for PCR testing.
"The idea that somebody in Athlone has to travel over to Mullingar, let's say, to get a test, creates a barrier to people getting tested, and we know that testing is at the heart of it," he said.
"We're being encouraged to get PCR tests as often as possible if we have any symptoms, but any kind of barrier for somebody to get a test runs the risk of potentially creating a chain of transmission that we could have stopped if somebody had been tested."