Image by Hermann Kollinger from Pixabay
Fears of a spike in Covid-19 cases in Longford, following what Judge Keenan Johnson described as a 'potential super-spreader' wedding party, has prompted the Health Minister and HSE to agree to a proposal from local TD Joe Flaherty to open a pop-up Covid-19 test centre in the county town.
The centre, located at the Mastertech Business Park, will be available from Monday morning, May 10 and it will be open from 10am to 4.30pm daily up until Saturday, May 15.
Longford / Westmeath Fianna Fáil Deputy Flaherty made the request during a contribution in the Dáil yesterday evening (Thursday, May 6).
He said the 'very public event in Longford town' on Wednesday 'ran contrary to the compliance and significant community commitment' that helped Longford come to terms with the public health challenge.
And he asked Health Minister Stephen Donnelly 'to request the HSE to convene a mobile pop-up test centre for Longford town for the next couple of weeks and until such time as we are sure that any risk arising from this week's events has abated'.
The owner of a marquee used to play host to an 'illegal' Traveller wedding after party in Longford town earlier this week has described the fallout from the incident as "regrettable".
The bridal party and organisers behind the staging of an “illegal” wedding after party in Co Longford which attracted over 100 guests, have been ordered to come before the courts to explain their decision to “flagrantly” breach public health guidelines.
It is understood that over 100 guests have attended a Longford wedding celebration party in a marquee that was the subject of a court order.
Addressing the Dáil, Deputy Flaherty outlined, "I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Feighan's overview of the Covid challenges in the Traveller community.
"There were 16 new Covid outbreaks and 65 new cases of the disease in the Traveller community notified to the HSE in the past week.
"These new cases bring to more than 3,600 the number of confirmed cases of the disease in the 35,000 strong Traveller community reported in this third wave of the disease which began just before Christmas.
"According to the statistics, 155 members of the Travelling community have been hospitalised with the disease since the third wave, 22 have required critical care and, sadly, eight have died.
"We had a very public event in Longford town yesterday and, understandably, it has given cause for much concern locally. It was an event that ran contrary to the compliance and significant community commitment which has helped us as a community and as a county come to terms with the public health challenge in recent weeks.
"Some weeks ago, the Traveller health movement and the HSE convened a very successful pop-up test centre in Longford town. At the time, our statistics were among the worst in the country.
"Yesterday, for the first time in almost two months our national average over 14 days was back below the national average.
"However, there are concerns we may see a spike again in Longford over the coming days.
"With this in mind, I ask the Minister to request the HSE to convene a mobile pop-up test centre for Longford town for the next couple of weeks and until such time as we are sure that any risk arising from this week's events has abated."
Next Monday sees the first phase of the economy's gradual reopening and for local businesses like Matt O'Brien Fashions, the countdown towards opening its doors fully on May 17 can't come soon enough.
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