Walk-in Covid-19 swabbing centres are set to be deployed more widely as part of the HSE's testing strategy.

Chief Executive Paul Reid said that "very significant benefits" are already being seen from a small number of temporary pop-up sites that were set up in various locations over the past 10 days.

He said he is very pleased in particular to see young people presenting for testing and that overall positivity rates from these swabbing centres is about 3%.

Mr Reid said this type of testing of asymptomatic people in communities where the virus is spreading at a high level will be part of the HSE's testing strategy from now on.

"The way we see it working is we will move them into areas where we see high transmission levels in the community. It creates strong awareness in the community, it helps us to communicate in the community about transmission levels.

"So we see that as a feature of our testing strategy going forward, they will be mobile locations moving in on a rapid basis into areas with high transmission levels," he said.

Dr Clíona Ní Cheallaigh, a consultant in infectious diseases at St James's hospital in Dublin said that she and her colleagues will be "delighted" to hear this news.

"We know from other infections, in particular with sexually transmitted infections, that it is all about making testing really easy; if they {a person} have the slightest doubt or concern, they can just pop in and get tested. That is how we will pick up more cases and get it better controlled," she said.

Dr Ní Cheallaigh said that this type of walk-in, no appointment necessary testing makes the process "much less scary" and makes it "more accessible and easier to do".

She said this type of testing will be especially good for those who not have access to a general practitioner.

"The other thing that's fantastic is some people don't have a GP, some younger people for example, undocumented migrants or people who are homeless, something like this makes it really easy to pop in and get a test no matter what your circumstances are."

There are currently 7 of these free, walk-in swabbing centres up and running, with varying operational dates.

Three are located in Dublin, at Finglas, Balbriggan and Crumlin.

The remaining centres are in Navan, Naas, Athlone and Ballinasloe.