21 August 2020| | 4 min read
New COVID testing facility opens in Newcastle
A new centre to provide rapid access to COVID-19 tests is being opened in Newcastle’s West End.
The NHS Test and Trace centre on the former Newcastle General Hospital site will offer residents tests for coronavirus by appointments.
As part of a national network, the centre will be linked to the national test booking system and will feed results into the NHS Test & Trace system to help control the spread of the virus and protect our population.
The centre has been built over the last few days and will begin testing on Friday August 21.
It’s the third such testing facility in the city with a drive-through centre at Newcastle Great Park and a walk-through centre at Byker.
It’s the result of collaboration between the Department for Health and Social Care, Newcastle City Council and Newcastle University.
Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Public Health, Cllr Irim Ali, who is also a local councillor, welcomed the new centre.
Cllr Ali said: “Testing as many people who develop symptoms as possible is crucial for controlling COVID. We know that members of the BAME community are at greater risk from the virus and this centre will help us get more tests closer to that community.
“It’s just the latest COVID-19 testing centre in Newcastle. It will help public health officials quickly contain outbreaks and, we hope, avoid Government lockdown restrictions which is good for local businesses and people trying to go about their everyday lives.”
Eugene Milne, Director of Public Health at Newcastle City Council, said: “This testing centre will support our local outbreak control plan, providing a place for people with COVID-19 symptoms in the local area to access testing.
“The site is aimed at local residents without access to a car, enabling them to walk or cycle to the site. Residents with a car should continue to access the drive-through sites.
“Where positive cases are identified, the NHS Test and Trace system should then identify those who may have come into contact with the virus to isolate and control any potential local outbreak. Provision across the wider city will be reviewed as the system develops, and further potential testing sites will be assessed."
Professor Julie Sanders, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Newcastle University, said: “At a time of unprecedented challenges we all need to pull together and our University has an important role to play in supporting our partners, our city and our region. The new Test and Trace Centre showcases the importance of working together to maximise the contribution we can make to our community.”
The centre will support the NHS Test and Trace programme announced by Government which is moving towards a more local approach to testing integrated with a national system. This should enable more people to be tested and draw increasingly on local knowledge.
People with a new and persistent cough, a temperature, or a loss of taste or smell, can book a testing appointment at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by dialling 119.