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PORTSMOUTH CORONAVIRUS REGIONAL TESTING CENTRE OPENS FOR KEY WORKERS
21 April 2020

A drive-through coronavirus testing facility is to open in Portsmouth as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing for thousands more NHS and other key workers.

Arrangements for the Isle of Wight are currently being finalised to enable key workers to be tested on the island rather than travelling to the mainland.

The site sits alongside a rapidly expanding network of testing sites being set up around the UK, and is operating on an appointment-only basis for NHS staff and other key workers. The facility will be piloted for its first few days of operation.

This follows the launch of the Government’s partnership with universities, research institutes and companies to begin rollout of the network of new labs and field testing sites across the UK, with 35 testing sites opened to date.

This network will provide thousands more PCR swab tests - which are used to identify if you currently have the virus - for critical key workers, starting with NHS front line staff. This means those who test negative for coronavirus can return to work as soon as possible, and those who test positive are able to recover.

Health Minister Lord Bethell said:

“The Government is rapidly scaling up the national effort to boost testing capacity for coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives.

“This new service will help end the uncertainty of whether NHS and social care staff and other key workers need to stay at home, meaning, those who test negative will be able to return to work.

“This is a national effort and we are proud to be working with a number of partners to turn this ambition into a reality and roll out additional capacity to where it is needed.”

Professor John Newton, National Coordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy, said:

“New testing sites such as this one are a key pillar of our 5-pillar plan to scale up testing, and are critical in supporting NHS staff and other frontline workers who are isolating at home to return safely to work if the test is negative.”

“This is a brilliant example of industries and businesses turning their resources to creating and rolling out mass testing at scale, which will help to deliver on our aim of carrying out 100,000 tests a day across the UK by the end of the month.”

Simon Bryant, Hampshire County Council’s Director of Public Health, speaking on behalf of the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum, said:

“We welcome the Department of Health and Social Care’s announcement that our region’s primary testing site is in Portsmouth, with separate arrangements in place for the Isle of Wight, and that this will be up and running this week.  Ensuring key workers, primarily health and social care staff, receive prompt, reliable and regular testing is critical in our battle to further slow the spread of the virus.  Those invited for testing will be prioritised – staff and the public can expect to hear more on this shortly.”

The Government is also urgently working on setting up a home-testing service for critical key workers, supported by Amazon's logistics network and other commercial partners.

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