West End Covid-19 Test Site To Open

A new Covid-19 testing centre on the Westgate Road General Hospital site is set to open by the weekend.

Work on setting up the semi-permanent facility is now underway and staff are being trained on-site to carry out Covid-19 testing.

The testing centre will be modelled on the successful Shields Road test centre, which trialled new walk-through access for the public.

This allowed testing to be extended to those “who may otherwise struggle to access existing facilities in the region, such as the drive-through site at Newcastle Great Park and mobile testing units,” said the city’s Director of Public Health, Prof Eugene Milne.

People visiting the Westgate Road site will be able to access on foot, cycle or motor vehicle.

It will be a ‘fixed’ facility, which speeds up the process of getting people tested and getting results back, according to Prof Milne, who is leading the City Council’s efforts to combat outbreaks of Covid-19 in the city.

“I want people to be able to get tests as quickly as possible when they are symptomatic – I don’t want them waiting a few days for a mobile test unit to come.”

In choosing the location for a second walk-in testing centre in the city, Prof Milne was recently quoted by local media as being “very conscious” of the need to provide good testing access for the city’s black and minority ethnic communities (which have been hit harder by Covid-19 than many other communities).

Newcastle City Council has yet to announce full details, but the West End site is expected to open seven days a week 9am to 5pm. If the Shields Road model is followed, people showing Covid-19 symptoms will be able to book an appointment for testing.

GH  20 August 2020