Northern Ireland news

'Drive-through' testing for coronavirus rolled out at Co Antrim hospital

A 'drive-through' testing facility in London for coronavirus
Seanín Graham

A 'DRIVE-THROUGH' facility to test for coronavirus has been operating at one of Northern Ireland's busiest hospitals.

The Irish News has learned that staff at Antrim Area hospital are using the scheme, which allows health professionals wearing protective masks and clothing to swab patients with suspected Covid-19 - through the window of their cars.

A spokeswoman for the Northern health trust last night confirmed they were rolling out the initiative - which is also happening in other parts of the NHS including England and Scotland - and said it helped "safeguard the hospital environment and vulnerable patients from potential exposure" to the highly infectious virus.

She explained that a patient is directed for a drive-through assessment to the Co Antrim following a GP referral based on their travel history and symptoms.

When they arrive at the hospital, staff will "approach the vehicle".

"The individual is asked to put their window down and the staff member collects the necessary swabs," the spokeswoman explained.

"The individual is provided with information advising them of the need to self-isolate and who to contact for further advice if their symptoms worsen and they become unwell."

There is no facility to date within in the Belfast health trust - which is the north's biggest trust and houses one of the UK's 12 specialist testing units for coronavirus.

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Northern Ireland news