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Westport Covid spike sparks concern

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TESTING TIMES  Almost 400 tests were carried out over two days as Scoil Phadráig on the Newport Road in Westport was used as a walk-in Covid testing centre.  Pic: Conor McKeown

‘We all have to be extra vigilant’ – Flynn

Michael Gallagher

A Westport politician is urging caution after it was revealed that Covid cases in the town are running at three times the national average.
Cllr Peter Flynn says that the entire community must be extra vigilant and continue to ‘do the right things’ to combat the spread of the virus.
Figures released over the weekend show 176 new positive cases in the Westport Electoral area in the two-week period to Monday last, July 26. This is a shocking statistic given the number of infections in the area for the previous fortnight was 12.
Speaking to The Mayo News, Cllr Flynn said locals and tourists alike must keep their guard up to fight the latest Covid surge.
“We all have to be extra vigilant and continue to do the right things, such as hand washing, mask wearing, social distancing and all the things we have been so good at since March 2020.
“It’s summer and people want to enjoy themselves socially, which is understandable, but the latest figures have made us all reassess a little. The most important thing is to get as many people as possible vaccinated as quickly as possible, but until that occurs we cannot let our guard down,” he stated.

‘Major implications’
The surge in positive cases resulted in a pop-up test centre being set up in Westport last Friday and Saturday. Almost 400 tests were carried out over the two days, and Peter O’Malley, senior manager with the HSE, said it was heartening to see so many people presenting for tests.
“It’s no secret that there has been an increase in the number of positive cases in the metropolitan area surrounding Westport. Numbers in Mayo had been very good, but a recent surge has led to certain pockets in the county having a high prevalence of Covid. Public Health picked up on that and wanted to track the trend and give people a sense of where things are.
“The Westport pop-up served a number of purposes. It made people of the area aware that the number of cases had risen, and it gave a sense of security to people of the town and those traveling into the town that there was very easy access to the test,” Mr O’Malley told The Mayo News.
“The benefit of having a pop-up in Westport was the local population could access a test in their own town, but also people holidaying in the area could get tested very easily. A person getting Covid has major implications for everyone – for them, their family, the people they’re staying with and the wider community in general.
“If there’s a surge in numbers in any tourist town then the prospect of people carrying the infection back to their home communities and spreading it there is very real. Therefore we wanted to get in and try to deal with the problem on the ground and try to get it early,” he added.

‘Huge surge’
The two-day test centre proved very popular with locals and tourists alike with 394 people availing of the service. This is one of the highest responses recorded by the HSE in recent months. Meanwhile, numbers of tests being carried out in Galway are rising steadily, according to Mr O’Malley.
“The numbers being tested in the city are almost back up to the levels they were at before Christmas when there was a huge surge. It’s important everyone keeps working hard at doing the right thing,” he concluded.

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