Coronavirus testing: Portsmouth set to see drive-through centre for NHS staff and key workers

A CORONAVIRUS drive-thru facility in Portsmouth is likely to be announced next week.

Saturday, 18th April 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Saturday, 18th April 2020, 6:18 pm

The News understands that Portsmouth is set to be one of 50 regional testing centres around the UK, which are set to be unveiled by the government on Monday.

Testing will be prioritised for health care staff – such as NHS and care home workers – and other key workers.

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The lorry park at Tipner West, Portsmouth, where a drive-thru coronavirus testing facility is set to be opened next week. Picture: Sarah Standing (160420-7823)

According to sources, the centre will be based in Tipner West, just off the M275.

This site had previously been earmarked as an overspill lorry park to prevent traffic queuing to get into Portsmouth International Port in the event of a no-deal Brexit, under plans formulated by Hampshire’s Local Resilience Forum.

Leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, is optimistic about the impact this facility will have.

He said: ‘Portsmouth will become the regional hub for coronavirus testing.

‘People who need it will simply be able to drive over and get tested, which is wonderful news.

‘Our NHS heroes and the thousands working in care homes need to know whether they are carrying the virus or not, for the sake of their employees and the people they look after.

‘Given the number of cases and deaths we have seen in Portsmouth and the surrounding area, this is a major step in the right direction.’

It is believed that the next closest centre will be at Gatwick Airport.

The news comes after Southampton Airport began doubling up as a mortuary earlier this week.

Sources claim that it will be a quick turnaround following the government announcement, with Portsmouth’s testing centre potentially opening as early as Wednesday next week.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage was working for the Department of Health before the latest cabinet reshuffle.

She said: ‘The government has made a pledge to reach 100,000 tests a day by next month, and has been looking at sites across the country.

‘I knew that there were plans for a centre to be set up in our neck of the woods – but didn’t know exactly where.

‘This is an important step for our front-line workers, so they can find out whether they’re showing any symptoms. We have to support them no matter what.’

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