(TMU) — Ireland’s health service has announced that it will transform the country’s biggest sports stadium into a massive drive-thru coronavirus testing site.
Testing at the 80,000 capacity Croke Park Stadium began on Tuesday on an appointment-only basis, AFP reported Wednesday.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the Health Service Executive said:
“Croke Park is one of the designated testing centers for north Dublin.”
With its massive football pitch and location in central Dublin, Croke Park is home to and headquarters of Gaelic football and the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).
Given that no matches will be played at the Dublin venue any time in the near future, the GAA offered the national stadium as a site for drive-thru testing. Once the site is fully operational, it is expected that it will handle an average of eight cars every 15 minutes for seven days a week and 12 hours per day.
On Wednesday, the Department of Health announced that 74 new cases of CoViD-19 had been confirmed in the country, bringing the total number of infections in Ireland to 366, Joe reported. In Dublin alone, there are 129 confirmed cases.
Irish pubs, schools, and universities will be closed until March 29, but it is quite likely that that the closures will last much longer than initially announced.
Gatherings of over 100 people have also been restricted as the government has stressed the need for “social distancing” measures, including working from home.
In a dire warning delivered Tuesday during a St. Patrick’s Day address, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar warned there could 15,000 cases of coronavirus in Ireland by month’s end, and the duration of the crisis could stretch well into the summer.
In the emotional speech, Varadkar said:
“This is a Saint Patrick’s Day like no other.
A day that none of us will ever forget.
Today’s children will tell their own children and grandchildren about the national holiday in 2020 that had no parades or parties, but instead saw everyone staying at home to protect each other.
In years to come, let them say of us, when things were at their worst, we were at our best.”
Continuing, he warned of the enormous stresses likely to be placed on health professionals, noting:
“This is the calm before the storm—before the surge.
And when it comes—and it will come—never will so many ask so much of so few.”