The Health Service Executive (HSE) and the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) have come together to bring a new community-based testing service for COVID-19 to vulnerable adults.
This will use the Irish Wheelchair Association’s fleet of buses to transport testing personnel to vulnerable people who are unable to attend test centres.
This will also include people with disabilities and older people.
The IWA has a network of 117 buses nationwide, which it says will be of particular support to people living in rural and isolated areas.
Under the new service, the association will provide a driver and bus to ensure that vulnerable people within local communities requiring a COVID-19 test can be visited by HSE testing personnel.
The bus will collect the testers, transport them to the location of the person to be tested and return them to an agreed location after testing.
Samples will then be sent to identified laboratories.
The HSE says its requirements around infection control and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) will be applied throughout the process.
HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid said: "I want to thank Irish Wheelchair Association and their staff for providing this vital service to the HSE.
"While we have made great progress and scaled up in a way the health service has never done before, this transport initiative ensures that we are meeting the needs of vulnerable people."
Rosemary Keogh, chief executive officer of the IWA, added: "Supporting the needs of people, who may find themselves vulnerable at this concerning time, is critical."
"This new transport partnership will expand our service to support the HSE in delivering vital community-based testing, so that people who may have COVID-19 can easily access a test."
The IWA is Ireland’s leading representative body for people with physical disabilities.
The organisation has 20,000 members, 2,500 staff and 57 community centres for people with disabilities across Ireland.
The organisation has also established an emergency response team in its assisted living service - which will act as a third layer of support following family and the HSE - if a person with a physical disability has to go into self-isolation.