The current delays in PCR COVID-19 testing are "not good enough", a TD says.
There are growing calls for the HSE to be given extra resources to deal with the extremely high demand for tests.
Several counties have no available slots at self-referral clinics today, while some currently have no appointments available for tomorrow either.
Recent days have seen a number of opposition TDs highlight the lack of tests available to book in Dublin.
Yet again today, there are no appointments available for PCR tests for the next 2 days in any of the 8 Dublin centres or in Wicklow, Kildare, Meath or Louth, and many other places. Urgent need to ramp up testing capacity if spread is to be contained. https://t.co/AIuYsMTaak
— Róisín Shortall (@RoisinShortall) November 17, 2021
The HSE has the capacity for around 200,000 PCR tests a week.
However, the latest stats show the system is running at capacity - with over 198,000 tests completed in the last week.
Meanwhile, the positivity rate from those tests has also risen to 15.6% in the last week.
The Irish Times reports a private company has now been enlisted by the HSE to help meet the level of demand.
Labour's health spokesperson, Duncan Smith, told Newstalk Breakfast the waiting times and delays need to be sorted out.
He said: “Primarily, it’s an issue with availability. On top of that, there are glitches when people are logging on [to the website] with personal devices or laptops.
“Fundamentally, if you wake up today with symptoms and take an antigen test and it’s positive - or indeed if you don’t take an antigen test - you will not be able to get a test in Dublin until tomorrow afternoon.
“As the morning progresses, there’ll be no appointments tomorrow and you’ll have to wait until Saturday.”
Deputy Smith said the issue has been 'bubbling up' for the past two weeks, but the delays are now having an impact on contact tracing.
He said he’s heard from GPs being ‘inundated with calls from people with symptoms looking for referrals as they can’t book a test themselves.
Deputy Smith said the key thing now is to get capacity ramped up - especially amid stark projections of the number of cases and hospitalisations the country could see in the coming weeks.
He said: "There are an awful lot of tests going through, but it’s not enough to cope with this peak.
"This peak... even the so-called [optimistic] projections for the next few weeks show this is going to be very bad.
“We need people in our frontline test centre: if we get this wrong, it will have a knock-on impact on the rest of our health service.”