The latest coronavirus update (as of Wednesday, 11th March) is that various cities across the UK have begun operating coronavirus drive-through testing stations as part of the government’s plans to ‘ramp up’ facilities and enable more than 10,000 tests to be done each day. The most recent place to set up a COVID-19 drive-through was Wolverhampton.
Patients will be urged to use these drive-through facilities rather than attend their local hospital or GP in an attempt to control the spread of the virus, while it is also said that its implementation will also protect healthcare workers from contracting the coronavirus.
In order to use the facility, patients must have an official referral from NHS 111.
The testing process will include a mouth swab test, with results returned to the customer once their individual sample has been tested for the virus. Public Health England (PHE) says that the country will be one of the first to roll out the ‘highly sensitive’ test, with more than 1,500 tests currently being assessed every day.
The hope is that, in due course, tests for COVID-19 will be made more readily available and allow around 10,000 people to be tested each day, while confirmation of results could also be accelerated to allow those patients who test positive to react accordingly.
Where are coronavirus drive-throughs located?
Stations have been set up throughout England, including Wolverhampton (most recently), Shropshire, London, Wigan and Bolton, among others.
Covid-19 drive-throughs have also been established in Swansea and Wrexham in Wales, and Edinburgh in Scotland, which was one of the first places to introduce the drive-through testing system in February.
What’s been said?
Discussing how the drive-through testing facility will work, the Director of Public Health for the City of Wolverhampton Council has said:
“Individuals using the drive through facility will not leave their vehicles, so will not place others at any risk, nor will people living or working nearby be at any increased risk of infection.
“I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public from coronavirus remains low and that we are working with health partners at a regional and national level to do everything to ensure the people of Wolverhampton are protected.”
Operations director of the Wolverhampton clinical commissions group, Mike Hastings, said:
"We are working in collaboration with NHS colleagues to begin community drive-through swabbing of patients to test for coronavirus. By testing people in their cars rather than inviting them into hospital sites or GP surgeries we are able to greatly reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
"It's important to stress that this service is available by referral only. People will not be seen or tested if they turn up without a referral from NHS 111."
The Swansea Bay Director of Public Health added:
“The demand for testing people for COVID-19 is growing, so it is important that we are able to provide a convenient and safe way to provide tests in a timely way, and which makes the best use of our hard-working staff.
“People who don’t drive or don’t have access to a car can still be tested in their own home.”
Coronavirus Update (12/03/2020)
Following the biggest daily rise of cases since the first one occurred in January, there are now 596 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the UK with 10 confirmed deaths.
President Donald Trump has announced that all incoming flights from Europe to America will be cancelled as they tighten border restrictions; however, these restrictions to not currently apply for flights leaving the UK.
Boris Johnson was set to chair a Cobra meeting this afternoon (12/03/2020), in which he was expected to announce that the UK will be moving into the ‘delay’ phase of its plans to protect citizens from the coronavirus, with the possibility of all schools and universities being closed and large gatherings being cancelled or postponed.
News on UK school closures is yet to be clarified, but Nicola Sturgeon has stated today that it is "not necessary to close schools yet", and that this decision is remaining under review.
It has also been announced today that all schools, colleges and nurseries in Ireland will close until 29th March.