Exactly what’s going on at one of Northumberland’s Covid-19 testing centers


Just a few months ago, this tiny lot was nothing more than a parking lot for families enjoying a day of play or picnic in their local park.Now. transformed with tents, fences and masked and gloved workers, it has become a key part of Northumberland’s battle against the coronavirus.

The People’s Park parking lot in Ashington is now one of the county’s coronavirus testing centers, capable of testing a “continuous flow” of symptomatic patients and distributing the most important results within 48 hours.

And with 902 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the past seven days in Northumberland, testing centers have rarely been more vital.

Liz Morgan, director of public health for Northumberland, said the region briefly saw “a slight drop” in testing rates, but the numbers have recently risen, with around 7,500 tests performed in the seven days leading up to November 8. .

Two more local test centers, within walking distance, were added to the county’s reception capacity this week, with sites in Berwick and Hexham open this Friday and Saturday. They join the existing Ashington site and Blyth site, as well as mobile drive-thru test units that move across the county.

The addition of walk-in sites makes testing more accessible for those who do not have access to a car and are located in areas that are easily accessible for pedestrians.

Ms Morgan said: “We are seeing relatively good use of testing at Ashington and Blyth, and it increased once we got these sites. ”

She encouraged anyone who has experienced symptoms to book a test, adding, “You can never have too much of the right kind of test. ”

At the Ashington site, Toby Rostrom-Maher, regional manager of test sites for supplier Sodexo, explained that appointments are staggered throughout the day to prevent too many potential carriers of the coronavirus from coming into contact. the ones with the others.

The system is designed so that no one spends more than 15 minutes on the site, he added.

He said: “What we want people to know is that this is a straightforward process, there will be someone on hand to guide you every step of the way. The teams here are very familiar with the process and are there to help anyone who needs it.

“The areas are cleaned between each test, it’s a safe place to come.

“We encourage anyone with symptoms to book online, and people can usually get tested in the area of ​​their choice. ”

As our overview video above shows, those who need a test enter the tent at the front of the parking lot, where they are checked in and an attendant makes sure they are wearing a mask.

The cabins are carefully cleaned after each use

Staff distribute self-test kits to everyone who walks in, carefully placing the kit in a box through a window in a protective plastic screen, making sure they don’t get too close.

Each individual test booth is equipped with a mirror and clear instructions, showing people how to use the self-administered throat and nose swab. The tests are then sealed and dropped off near the exit, where patients use a QR code scanner on their phone to make sure their test is linked to their contact details, so they can get results within 48 hours.

You can get free Covid-19 tests if:

  • you have a high temperature
  • you have a new continuous cough
  • you have lost your sense of smell or taste or it has changed
  • a local council asked you
  • you are participating in a government pilot project

Those showing symptoms are encouraged to get tested as soon as possible.

Book a test online at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test


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