Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

11.56 5 Jun 2021


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Testing capacity at one of Limerick's walk-in centres will be doubled today as part of efforts to tackle the county's rising COVID-19 rates.

A new pop-up testing facility will also be set up next week and an online referral system goes live today.

Limerick's levels of coronavirus cases are around three and a half times the national average.

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The county's 14-day incidence rate stands at 426 cases per 100,000 people and on Thursday, the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan warned that the majority of the 800 cases reported there in the past fortnight were related to indoor gatherings.

However, following a meeting between Dr Holohan and public representatives, the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly said "no consideration whatsoever" is being given to a local lockdown in Co Limerick.

Minister Donnelly said following yesterday's meeting that while the rate in Limerick is “simply too high and poses a serious risk to public health", a lockdown specific to the county is not being considered at this point.

Kieran O'Donnell, a Fine Gael TD for Limerick city, said there will be a renewed effort to reduce infections among younger, unvaccinated people.

Speaking to Seán Defoe on Newstalk Breakfast Weekends, Deputy O'Donnell said that from his meeting with the CMO and Health Minister, he learned the number of cases in Limerick had reduced from 103 on Thursday to 75 on Friday.

limerick St Mary's Cathedral, Limerick. Photo: The Irish Image Collection/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire

There is also one person in hospital being treated for the virus in the county.

"Certainly that gave rise for some air of optimism that we can come out of this," he said.

"I think the key focus is to bring cases down, a number of key measures have been put in place, one of those being the doubled capacity of testing at St Joseph's Hospital campus which is one of the rest centres in the city and also looking to put a third test centre into the county on top of the existing two.

"The key focus is that people do the basics, wear the masks, wash their hands, do the hygiene, but more specifically, those who are not vaccinated, who are the more vulnerable ones, need to be very careful in terms of interacting with crowds, particularly in indoor gatherings.

Deputy O'Donnell said there is no question of delaying the reopening of hospitality businesses in Limerick when outdoor dining and drinking returns on Monday.

"There are two aspects here, one is showing that the vaccination programme is working and secondly, what we need to do here is ensure that people who are not vaccinated take extra care, people can get out and about but they have to do proper social distancing," he added.

"You have businesses in the city centre and throughout Limerick that have been closed for months and we want to see reopening, we want to see people coming into the city, in a way that is in line with public health guidelines."

Main image: Limerick City and the River Shannon, looking inland towards St John's Castle and Thomond Bridge. Photo: RollingNews.ie

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