A drive-through coronavirus testing facility is to open at the bet365 Stadium, as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to increase testing.
Anyone experiencing a new, continuous cough, a high temperature, or a loss of or change in their normal sense of smell or taste, can book an appointment on the NHS website to be tested for whether they currently have coronavirus. Essential workers can book a test on the GOV.UK essential worker self-referral portal.
The site sits alongside the existing network of testing sites being set up around the UK. The facility will be piloted for its first few days of operation.
The Government has more than doubled the capacity of the NHS/PHE laboratory network, set up 52 regional test centres and 116 mobile testing units, and introduced home testing kits and three Lighthouse laboratories.
Heather Johnstone, Director of Nursing and Quality for the NHS Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs and head of the local partnership testing cell, said: “We have achieved much since the local testing site opened, helping NHS, local authority, care, and other emergency workers get back to work on the frontline. Today’s announcement will allow capacity at the site to be opened up to many more people who have Coronavirus symptoms.
“I would like to thank Stoke City FC and their staff for all the magnificent support they have given to us, and to our team who volunteered to leave their normal roles to operate the testing site.”
Stoke-on-Trent City Council leader Abi Brown said: “Regional testing centre status for the bet365 Stadium means we can help so many more residents during this most testing of times. Our city is ready and willing to support the wider provision of testing that is such an important factor in helping to control this horrible disease.”
Richard Smith, Property Director for the bet365 Group and Managing Director for Stoke City, commented: “We are delighted to be able to assist with the national Covid-19 testing effort by providing the bet365 Stadium South Car Park for use as a Regional Testing Centre for people from the city and surrounding area.
“This will replace the Satellite Centre which has been in operation at the stadium since 20th April and mean that people have a locally accessible test centre in addition to the Mobile Testing Unit which the bet365 Group has also been supporting at bet365 House.”
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
“The Government continues to rapidly scale up the national effort to boost testing capacity for coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives.
“This is a national effort and we are proud to be working with a number of partners to turn this ambition into a reality and roll out additional capacity to where it is needed.”
Professor John Newton, National Coordinator for the UK Coronavirus Testing Strategy, said:
“New testing sites such as this one are a key pillar of our 5-pillar plan to scale up testing, and are critical in supporting essential workers who are isolating at home to return safely to work if the test is negative.
“This is a brilliant example of industries and businesses turning their resources to creating and rolling out mass testing at scale.”
The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Sodexo, and will offer assisted and self-administered tests. Those tested will receive their results within a few days.
Sean Haley, regional chair of Sodexo UK & Ireland said:
“Sodexo teams have moved quickly to set up COVID-19 testing centres as part of the industry-wide effort to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bet365 Stadium site becoming a regional testing centre will mean more frontline NHS and other staff can be tested and cleared to provide care to those who need it most. I am proud of our colleagues who are working together with pace and dedication to support the NHS."
A Boots UK spokesperson said:
“Boots has been at the heart of UK healthcare for 171 years and has always come forward to support the community in times of need. Our team in Stoke-on-Trent is no exception. Some of our colleagues have already stepped forward to volunteer to run this COVID-19 testing station, which will start testing essential workers and people with symptoms of coronavirus on Friday, 29 May.”
In addition to the regional test sites, 116 mobile testing units operated by the Armed Forces travel around the UK to further increase access to coronavirus testing. They respond to need, travelling to test at sites including care homes, police stations and prisons. New units are being brought into operation each day.
The Government has set up a home-testing service, supported by Amazon's logistics network and other commercial partners. Home test kits can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house.
- Everyone in all four nations of the United Kingdom aged 5 or over with symptoms is now eligible for coronavirus tests: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/everyone-in-the-united-kingdom-with-symptoms-now-eligible-for-coronavirus-tests
- Those unable to access the internet can call 119 in England and Wales or 0300 303 2713 in Scotland and Northern Ireland to book a test.
- Link to the NHS test booking route:https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-for-coronavirus/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/
- Link to the GOV.UK essential worker test portal: https://www.gov.uk/apply-coronavirus-test-essential-workers