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Behind the scenes of the drive-through carrying out 130 Covid-19 tests per day

PUBLISHED: 15:29 30 April 2020 | UPDATED: 15:57 30 April 2020

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

More than 1,200 key workers have been tested for coronavirus at Norwich’s main testing centre - which is carrying out 130 tests every day.

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The drive-through centre, which has been operational for three weeks, is based in the Centrum car park of the Norwich Research Park, close to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) in Colney.

The drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Here, redeployed staff members from the hospital and the research park are working long hours to carry out the tests, which are being made available the NHS staff and other key workers - and preventing long haul drives to places like Stansted Airport, Peterborough and Ipswich where national centres are based.

NHS staff and keyworkers swab themselves assisted by nursing staff at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNHS staff and keyworkers swab themselves assisted by nursing staff at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

So far, some 150 different organisations have registered to book in their staff members for tests.

NHS staff and keyworkers swab themselves assisted by nursing staff at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNHS staff and keyworkers swab themselves assisted by nursing staff at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The centre operates much like any drive-through restaurant - individuals are tested by staff members without needing to leave their vehicle. However, tests are made by appointment only.

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Richard Goodwin, NNUH chief of clinical support services, said: “The centre has been up and working for a few weeks but opened to wider key workers on Monday.

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We are testing around 130 people today (Thursday) but have the capability to test a lot more than that and we are ready to test whoever we need to.

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“Working with our partners in the community we consolidated the testing in Norwich to this one site.

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We’re quite proud of the fact we have managed to set this one here - we knew it was the right thing to do.”

The admin staff at the check-in for the drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe admin staff at the check-in for the drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Dr Karim Gharbi, a geneticist at the Earlham Institute, who has been coordinating volunteer efforts, said: “Testing capacity has been a key focus from the beginning of this pandemic. Our volunteers are helping to keep NHS staff and key workers safe.

The admin staff at the check-in for the drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe admin staff at the check-in for the drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“We’ve heard a lot about meeting targets but this is all about channelling the region’s expertise and a desire to help into something that can and will make a difference.”

The cars queue for the drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe cars queue for the drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

As well as The Centrum, local testing centres have been set up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and the James Paget in Gorleston.

Nursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNursing staff assist NHS staff and keyworkers to use the swabs at the drive through Coronavirus testing facility at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Details of how many positive tests the centre has conducted were not made available.

The drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe drive through Coronavirus testing facility, now open for NHS staff and keyworkers at the Norwich Research Park. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Further information on who can be tested and how to arrange them can be found on the hospital’s website.


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