A new drive-through and walk-through coronavirus testing facility is to open for those with symptoms to book appointments at Dreamland Car Park, in Margate, as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to continue to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing for local communities.
Testing is available only for those with coronavirus symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. From the start of the pandemic, testing has been prioritised for the most vulnerable, including patients in clinical settings and care home residents, vital health and care staff and to manage outbreaks.
Those arriving on-site without a car will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face-covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre). Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through testing site will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.
Testing at the new site will start on Thursday, 15 October, with appointments made available each day.
The site is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history, which now includes more than 500 sites available across the UK, including 77 drive-through sites, 182 walk-through sites, 258 mobile units, home testing and satellite kits and five mega laboratories.
Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.
Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, asking them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book a test if they develop symptoms.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We continue to expand testing to make sure that everyone with symptoms can get a test, with our new walk-in sites making it even easier no matter where you live.
“This new site forms part of our national testing network, which has the capacity to test more than a million people a week and is growing all the time. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, I urge you to book a test today and follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace if you are contacted to protect others around you and stop the spread of the virus.”
Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “Our new walk through sites offer communities better access to coronavirus testing, so everyone with symptoms can get a test. This new site is part of our ongoing work to expand testing across the UK to deliver 500,000 tests a day by the end of October.
“Please book a test if you have coronavirus symptoms: a new continuous cough, a high temperature and a loss or change in sense of smell or taste. Everybody should continue to think hands, face, space, and follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace if you are contacted – this is the only way we can return to a more normal way of life.”
The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Mitie and will offer assisted and self-administered tests. Simon Venn, Chief Government & Strategy Officer, Mitie, said: “Our priority during the pandemic is to support the nation’s efforts to fight COVID-19 and help keep the country running. Testing is a critical part of the UK’s strategy to combat coronavirus and we’re proud to support the Government with this vital task. A big thank you to all the NHS staff, Mitie employees and other frontline heroes in Margate, who are working tirelessly to keep us all safe.”