A new coronavirus testing centre has opened at Dublin Airport with the capacity to conduct thousands of tests per day.
he drive-through facility, operated by Irish healthcare company RocDoc, officially began its operations on Thursday morning.
The firm believes it can help facilitate safer national and international travel ahead of the Christmas period.
RocDoc chief executive David Rock said: “As long as they abide by the HSE’s lockdown advice and see where we are at that time, hopefully it will have a very positive effect.
“If lockdown is lifted and safe travel does become an option, then this facility will be here to cater for that.
“But it’s not just external travel, we’re also talking about internal. We obviously have social gatherings that are going to happen around the Christmas time, if the HSE guidance allows for it.
“During that time it’s important that some people that will be visiting elderly or sick or dying family members, they have the capacity to be able to be tested, and to see them in a safe manner.”
The facility is operating from the Express Green Long-Term car park opposite the airport.
It was launched by Tony Murphy, chair of Fingal County Council’s tourism committee, and he was the first person to be tested at the facility.
RocDoc offers two tests, rapid LAMP testing as well as PCR testing- the gold standard used by the HSE.
Mr Rock said: “They’re both quite sensitive. Their sensitivity and specificity would be very similar. The test itself with LAMP technology can be done here on site.
“It’s done here in a mobile laboratory which will then go to the static laboratory which will be built in the next few weeks.
“Then with PCR we send it off-site currently, it takes a little bit longer for that. So it’s the next day, or 36 hours for that to come back.
“There’s two options on LAMP. If we have scientists on standby for express testing, that’s 199 euro, and that gives results within a few hours really.
“The standard LAMP is generally the same day, within a few hours, and that’s 149 euro.”
Prices start at 99 euros for a test, and RocDoc believes it will help international travellers negotiate the EU’s traffic light system.
Currently, people arriving in Ireland from “green” countries do not have to take extra precautions under the traffic light system.
Those coming from “orange” countries or regions will not have to restrict their movements on arrival if they have tested negative no more than three days prior to their arrival.
Passengers arriving in Ireland from so-called red countries must restrict their movements for 14 days, but from November 29 they can reduce that period if they have a negative test a minimum of five days after arrival.
Mr Rock said the testing site will also help people seeking to visit elderly relatives.
He said: “Some people want to go and see very elderly mothers or fathers, are concerned.
“They have no symptoms, they haven’t been in contact with anyone, but they want that extra level of peace of mind.”
A second testing facility operated by the company Randox is also due to open at the airport, located close to the Terminal 2 multi-storey car park.
Passengers and the general public will be able to take either a drive-through or walk-in test.
We all need to know the signs of #COVID19. If you have a cough, fever, breathing difficulties or experience changes in your sense of taste or smell it might mean you have it & could pass it on. If you have any symptoms, self-isolate & phone your GP for a free consultation. pic.twitter.com/KiaWFccbVY
— HSE Ireland (@HSELive) November 18, 2020
There is fresh demand for travel-related Covid-19 testing following the introduction of the EU traffic light system in Ireland and across Europe.
Several countries now require travellers to have had a negative Covid-19 test prior to their journey.
The State is advising the public to “exercise a high degree of caution” if travelling to countries covered by the EU traffic light system.
For countries not covered by the system, the advice is to “avoid non-essential” travel.