MoT centre becomes coronavirus testing station

An MoT centre in Belfast has been transformed into a coronavirus testing facility.

It follows the setting up of a drive-through testing centre at the city’s SSE Arena car park at the weekend to allow health care workers to be tested for Covid-19.

Now the Boucher Road vehicle testing centre will also be used, with other vehicle testing centres to be assessed for their suitability.

Infrastructure minister Nichola Mallon said she is delighted that her department can play its part in the fight against Covid-19.

“It is important that we all work together in the fightback against Covid-19. Keeping people safe is my number one priority and I will continue to do all I can within my department, freeing up any resources we have, to support the health minister and all our health trusts in the fight against this deadly virus,” she said.

“Through use of our MoT centres, we are delighted to be able to support the health minister and play our part in helping to rapidly increase testing to help save lives.

“Testing is a vital component in our effort to fight back against Covid-19.”

On Monday, it emerged that another 69 new cases of Covid-19 had been detected, with a further seven patient dying with coronavirus, bringing the total number of reported deaths in Northern Ireland to 70.

The Public Heath Agency gave the total number of confirmed cases in the region as 1,158.

Coronavirus cases in Northern Ireland
(PA Graphics)

Health minister Robin Swann said the “rapid expansion” of testing is a “key priority” for his department.

“We know that many members of the healthcare workforce who are currently undertaking home isolation are keen to return to work as soon as possible to support colleagues at this critical time,” he said.

“I understand that it has been a frustrating and worrying time for those staff who have displayed symptoms of Covid-19, or those whose family members have symptoms.

“The rapid expansion of testing capacity has been a key priority and we have been working with the Public Health Agency and HSC Trust colleagues to significantly increase the number of healthcare workers who can access testing for Covid-19.”

MOT closures
Balmoral MOT centre in Belfast (Liam McBurney/PA)

Vehicle testing has been suspended during the initiative.

The department for communities said all HGVs, trailers and buses with an MoT will be issued with a three-month Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC).

All four-year-old cars will be given a TEC for six months, from the date that their MOT test should have been due.

Meanwhile work is under way to addresses issues in relation to taxis.

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