A drive-through coronavirus testing facility is open at Twickenham Stadium for key workers and NHS staff. 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 32 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.
“The RFU is pleased to be able to support the COVID-19 drive-through testing programme at Twickenham Stadium for NHS and other key workers,” said RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney.
“We receive tremendous support from frontline services during match days at Twickenham and we are grateful for the opportunity to be able to support key workers during this severe national crisis with the use of our site and staff to support operationally.”
Health Minister Lord Bethell added: “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.”
There are now 24 Regional Test Sites set up by the Department of Health and Social Care (in Chessington; Greenwich; Wembley; Nottingham; Cardiff; Manchester; Belfast; Edgbaston; Gatwick; Glasgow; Gateshead; Plymouth; Liverpool; NHS Nightingale London; Stansted; Leeds; Aberdeen; Worcester; and Birmingham (Midland Metropolitan), Edinburgh, Preston, Londonderry, Ipswich and Doncaster).
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.”
And Cllr Gareth Roberts, Leader of Richmond Council, added: “Ensuring that that NHS workers and other frontline care staff are able to access testing quickly is a crucial element in fighting Coronavirus and the Council fully supports the opening of this new facility.
“Every day hundreds of council staff, in addition to thousands of NHS staff, put their lives on the line to support some of this borough’s most vulnerable residents, I am pleased, therefore, that the Council has moved quickly to ensure this new drive through facility has been given the green light to open without any delay.”