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Northern Ireland to extend testing for coronavirus key workers

Northern Ireland to extend testing for coronavirus key workers

Access to testing for those with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be extended across Northern Ireland to include key workers who are self-isolating because they are symptomatic or because a household member is symptomatic.

Expansion of testing provision across Northern Ireland is possible now with a third test centre opened in Craigavon to match those at SSE Belfast and City of Derry Rugby Club.

Those eligible include:

  • Any central government department
  • Health and Safety Executive
  • Those necessary to enable the critical national infrastructure to continue to operate (e.g. utility, transport sectors)
  • Those necessary to support the health and wellbeing of the community directly (e.g. funeral directors, refuse collectors, staff delivering key medical, energy, utility, transport and food supplies, food production, agriculture and food sectors, or supply pinch points)

Please note different procedures are in place for HSC staff, who will be advised of local testing arrangements by their line manager. 

Dr Bríd Farrell, Assistant Director of Service Development at the Public Health Agency (PHA), said: “Testing will be provided to employees of key services with symptoms of COVID-19 and/ or to household members of these individuals with symptoms. Symptoms include a new continuous cough and/ or high temperature.

“Testing of workers who are self-isolating will allow them to discuss the results with their employer with a view to agreeing a return to work date.”

Relevant employers will be provided with information on how their employees can make an appointment for a test through the PHA’s booking system. Employees who meet the criteria to be tested or have a family member who needs to be tested will be asked to contact their employer who will provide the email details of the booking system. On receipt of this email, PHA staff will contact them for further details and book an appointment. Test results will be returned within 72 hours – until these are received individuals should continue to follow the self-isolation advice.

Dr Farrell continued: “All centres are open from 10.00am to 4.00pm, 7 days a week. Those attending must arrive by car and follow the instructions they have received. By attending with a prior appointment, this will enable the test centres to run smoothly and efficiently.

“Anyone who is eligible should speak to their employer about receiving a test.

“This is another significant step forward to increase access to testing of key workers as part of the UK-wide coronavirus testing programme.”

Coronavirus National Testing Programme for key workers

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