Airport coronavirus testing centre to open for key workers

A drive-in coronavirus testing centre is to open at Aberdeen International Airport as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing for thousands more key workers.

The site is part of a rapidly expanding network of testing centres being set up around the UK, and will operate on an appointment basis for self-isolating key workers, or a self-isolating member of their family. These workers will be selected and contacted directly by their employer.

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 15 new testing centres 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. 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 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 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 in England by the end of the month.”

The Aberdeen Airport testing centre is being operated in partnership with Sodexo. It provides up to five drive-through lanes. The site will be piloted for its first few days of operation.

Scotland Office Minister Scotland Douglas Ross said: “This new UK Government-funded testing centre at Aberdeen Airport will help our frontline NHS staff continue doing their lifesaving work.

We need them able to go back to work and help those most in need of care, safe in knowledge they are not infected. The UK Government is expanding our testing capacity right across the UK and this new centre is a crucial part of that.And remember, over the Easter weekend our advice remains the same - stay at home, save lives.”

Steve Szalay, Aberdeen International Airport’s managing director, said: “The national response to this global pandemic has been nothing short of remarkable. We have seen a wide and diverse range of businesses make their services and expertise available in the fight against this virus and we were keen to help in any way.

“We are in regular contact with both the UK and Scottish governments as Aberdeen Airport continues to both support lifeline passenger flights and essential oil and gas services, however, we’ve also stressed that we were ready to offer support and make our facilities available.

“The Park and Depart facility on Wellheads Road is an ideal space for a testing facility and we were more than happy to make it available given COVID-19 impacts us all.”

Sean Haley, regional chair of Sodexo UK and Ireland said: “Sodexo teams have moved quickly to set up COVID-19 testing centres as part of the industry-wide effort to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The opening of the Aberdeen testing site will mean more frontline staff can be tested and cleared to provide care to those who need it most.

“I am proud of our colleagues who are working together with pace and dedication to support the NHS."

Christopher Littlejohn, deputy director of public health, NHS Grampian said:

"This is an extremely welcome development as it effectively doubles our capacity for keyworker testing in Grampian. Essential services have all been affected by staff having to isolate due to the coronavirus, and testing allows staff to return to work earlier than would otherwise be the case. The speed with which the facility has been developed is to be commended." ​

Key workers tested at the drive-in sites will receive their test results within a few days.

Samples from the testing sites will be analysed at new labs that have been set up in Milton Keynes, Alderley Park and Glasgow, using Thermo Fisher Scientific test machines loaned by universities across the country and public sector research establishment. Industry are also actively helping to establish these laboratories and the Government is working with Boots and other partners to set-up over 50 regional test centres around the country.

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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