Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has confirmed that testing is now underway at the site of the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) test centre in Newtownards.
The test centre has been handed over to the South Eastern HSC Trust who will use it to test healthcare workers. This follows the recent opening of DVA’s Balmoral test centre for the testing of Belfast HSC workers.
Speaking today during a visit to the Newtownards site, Minister Mallon said: “Keeping people safe is my number one priority and I am committed to doing all that I can to help in the fight back against COVID-19. During these challenging times I have maintained a focus not only on the responsibilities of my own Department but also on how DfI can make its skills and resources available to support others, particularly in our health service.
“I will continue to support the work of Minister Swann in any way that I can and if any further MOT test centres can be repurposed quickly to help increase testing for COVID-19 more rapidly, my Department will work with Trusts to make this happen as soon as possible. I am grateful to my staff who have worked closely with the South Eastern Trust and the Department of Health to get the Newtownards site up and running within a matter of days. This will help ensure that a greater number of frontline healthcare staff can be tested for the virus and enable them to return to their vital, life-saving jobs as quickly as possible.”
Minister Swann said: “Testing has a significant role to play in the fight against COVID-19 and I am continuing to grow that capacity as rapidly as possible. I am delighted that the HSC has been able to work closely in partnership with colleagues in the Department for Infrastructure and at MOT centres to make use of these excellent facilities as the need arises. Testing undertaken at DVA sites has been key to supporting local Trust capacity as part of our fight against COVID-19.”
Commenting on how the Newtownards site will be used, Seamus McGoran, Interim Chief Executive of the South Eastern Trust, said: “We are delighted to have the DVA test centre in Newtownards as our COVID-19 testing centre for South Eastern Trust. The centre allows our wonderful staff to deliver testing in a more efficient manner and also allows us to expand our testing capacity to support our health and social care partners within the Independent Sector at this crucial time. We are extremely grateful to our colleagues in the Department of Infrastructure who facilitated this important development.”