Friday, March 13, 2020


THE Waterford News & Star understands that officials from a number of public health agencies have been readying a prefabricated building in Ballytruckle for use as a Drive-In test centre for Covid-19.

The building, near Cherrymount, is owned by the HSE and was previously used by St. Martin’s Special School. Contractors have been working hard in the last week to prepare it for use by medical personnel as soon as this Monday (March 16). It is understood that management of an adjacent building used by Waterford Intellectual Disability Association (WIDA) were informed of the developments this week. That centre, known as Cherry Blossom, is closing this Monday and Tuesday with a review of future services to be reviewed on Wednesday.

The Waterford News & Star has contacted the South South West Hospital Group, the HSE and the Department of Health for more information but only the Department of Health has replied so far – to say that this was an operational matter that falls under the remit of the HSE. What is understood from sources in the HSE is that the building will be used for Waterford referrals initially, meaning that suspected Covid-19 patients will be referred to the centre by their GP, will then make their own way to there to be tested. The building has been divided into cubicles this week in preparation for the tests.

There were two more confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Waterford today, which brings the total to three, although there are still a number of tests outstanding.

A parent of a child attending WIDA’s residential care facility on the site told the Waterford News & Star that they “can’t understand the choice of building”.

“I know this is a very worrying time and facilities like this are needed, but surely the HSE could have used their Primary Care Centre on John’s Hill or maybe rented a building out by the airport,” the parent said. “This is a facility next to a care home for vulnerable adults with intellectual difficulties and I don’t think it’s appropriate to locate the facility here. Sure, there are only a few cases now, but what happens if things get out of control in a few weeks and the area is swarming with suspected cases?”

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