We have given our Honiton Road Park and Ride site over to the Government for use as a drive-through coronavirus testing facility.
It will be one of a growing network of facilities to increase testing for thousands more NHS and other key workers.
28 regional testing sites have opened to date in the UK, with the Government working in partnership with universities, research institutes and companies to set up new labs and field testing sites.
The network will provide thousands more PCR swab tests – which are used to identify if you currently have the virus – for critical key workers, starting with NHS front line staff. That means those who test negative for coronavirus can return to work as soon as possible, and those who test positive are able to recover.
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
“The Government is rapidly scaling up the national effort to boost testing capacity for coronavirus to protect the vulnerable, support our NHS, and ultimately save lives.
“This new service will help end the uncertainty of whether NHS and social care staff and other key workers need to stay at home, meaning those who test negative will be able to return to work.
“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 NHS staff and other frontline 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, which will help to deliver on our aim of carrying out 100,000 tests a day across the UK by the end of the month.”
The testing centre in Exeter is being operated in partnership with Serco and Boots, and will offer assisted and self-administered tests. Those tested will receive their results within a few days.
Kevin Craven, Serco CEO for UK and Europe said:
“We are pleased to be supporting the Government and the NHS in setting up and managing the new testing centre in Exeter as well as the testing centres we are already operating.
“I would like to pay tribute to my colleagues who have worked extremely fast and professionally, and with the other organisations involved, to set up these centres having deployed from other roles within Serco. I know that they are proud to be doing their part in helping the country tackle coronovirus”
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 Exeter is no exception. Some of our colleagues have already stepped forward to volunteer to run this COVID-19 testing station, which will start testing its first critical workers on Thursday.”
The Leader of Devon County Council, Councillor John Hart, has welcomed the move. He said:
“We are very happy to provide the site for this essential testing facility in Devon, working collaboratively with a range of organisations to support the NHS and key workers.”
The Government is also urgently working on setting up a home-testing service for critical key workers, supported by Amazon’s logistics network and other commercial partners.