Coronavirus: Wolverhampton drive-thru test centre was set up as Wolves Europa League game confirmed

Read the latest as a drive-thru coronavirus testing station is set up in Wolverhampton, a health minister tests positive and Wolves' Europa League match is set to be played against the club's will.

The drive-thru coronvirus testing centre being set up in Wolverhampton off Showell Road near Stafford Road
The drive-thru coronvirus testing centre being set up in Wolverhampton off Showell Road near Stafford Road

A drive-thru coronavirus testing station has opened in Wolverhampton as the city braces itself for the illness to take hold.

People in the city who display symptoms of Covid-19 and call NHS 111 are being told not to attend New Cross Hospital or their GP.

Instead they may be directed to a swabbing facility on a site opposite the KFC off the A449 Stafford Road.

Visits to the test centre are by appointment-only and people must have been referred by NHS 111.

More on coronavirus:

In sporting news, Wolves' match against Olympiacos in Greece is set to go ahead behind closed doors after the club's appeal for a fixture postponement was rejected by UEFA despite the Olympiacos owner testing positive for coronavirus.

The drive-thru testing centre will operate from a car park in Showell Road

Health officials in Wolverhampton want to divert people away from hospitals and GPs in a bid to curb the spread of the illness.

So far one person has died from coronavirus in the city, six people have died across the UK in total and the latest figures show that 382 people in the UK are now confirmed to have Covid-19.

The patient who died in Wolverhampton was in their 70s, had underlying health conditions and is believed to have caught the virus in the UK.

Officials in Sandwell say they are also looking at establishing a testing site.

Lisa McNally, Sandwell’s director of public health, said: “We’re working with the NHS to agree a suitable site and they are leading on this.”

It is unclear at this stage if other neighbouring areas in the West Midlands are setting up similar sites.

The NHS in England is planning to “ramp up” testing facilities so that 10,000 coronavirus tests can be performed each day.

So far more than 25,000 tests have been conducted by public health officials in England.

But it is hoped that within weeks, 10,000 swabs will be assessed each day.

What to do if you think you might have coronavirus

If you think you might have coronavirus or you've been in close contact with someone who has it it:

  • Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital

  • Stay at home and avoid close contact with other people

  • Use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service to find out what to do next

The 111 coronavirus service will tell you if you need to continue to stay at home (self-isolate) or if you need medical help.

The Wolverhampton centre is one of a number of temporary mobile test centres to be set up around the country.

Officials said people will only be told to go to the test centre if they have been referred by NHS 111.

Individuals will be swabbed while they sit in their vehicle before returning home.

They will receive their results from a healthcare professional once the sample has been tested.

Officials are at the site today setting up the temporary test centre

Director of Operations at Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, Mike Hastings, said: "We are working in collaboration with NHS colleagues to begin community drive-through swabbing of patients to test for coronavirus.

"By testing people in their cars rather than inviting them into hospital sites or GP surgeries we are able to greatly reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

"It's important to stress that this service is available by referral only. People will not be seen or tested if they turn up without a referral from NHS 111."

Wolverhampton Council's director of public health, John Denley, added: "This temporary facility has an important role to play in allowing people who show symptoms of coronavirus to be tested in a safe and convenient location without having to go into hospital or another clinical environment where they may inadvertently put vulnerable people at risk of infection.

“Individuals using the drive through facility will not leave their vehicles, so will not place others at any risk, nor will people living or working nearby be at any increased risk of infection.

"I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public from coronavirus remains low and that we are working with health partners at a regional and national level to do everything to ensure the people of Wolverhampton are protected."

People have been urged not to go to New Cross Hospital if they have coronavirus symptoms

Meanwhile Black Country pupils who were in Spain for an exchange trip are being flown home after schools in Madrid closed amid the threat.

Students from Grace Academy Darlaston were in the Spanish captial as part of a school exchange visit, a spokesman said.

But following a ruling to close its schools by the authorities from tomorrow the children will be flown home.

A Grace Academy spokesman said: "Following the Madrid authorities’ decision to close schools in Spain from March 11, Grace Academy made the decision to bring students who were on a school exchange visit home early.

"Grace Academy Darlaston closely followed Department for Education advice before the exchange visit.

"Now there has been a swift change in developments in Madrid, Grace Academy Darlaston have decided to bring the students home early as they cannot visit the school as planned.

Pupils from Grace Academy Darlaston are being flown home from a school exchange visit to Madrid

"There has been no evidence of students/staff coming into contact with anyone with the coronavirus but Grace Academy Darlaston will of course be following Public Health England ongoing advice.

"Please contact NHS 111 for further advice and information on symptoms."

School across the UK have remained open despite increasing concerns over the outbreak.

England's deputy chief medical officer Dr Jenny Harries defended the Government's decision to delay closing schools and the introduction of other stringent tactics, saying experts are assessing new cases on an hourly basis to achieve a "balanced response".

But new measures - including those aimed at protecting the elderly and vulnerable - are expected shortly as cases rise more rapidly across the UK.

Some flights from Birmingham Airport to Italy have been cancelled yesterday as the country battles the worst outbreak outside of China.

Airport officials said flights with Jet2. com and Ryanair to Italy are cancelled and customers booked on these services will be contacted by those airlines directly.

And flights to Amsterdam, Brussels, Munich and Dusseldorf were cancelled today.

A Birmingham Airport spokesman said: “We are working closely with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Public Health England (PHE) and are following all available guidance regarding COVID-19.

"Although we are now seeing some airlines cancel services to Italy and consolidate some services, travel from Birmingham Airport is unaffected. Customers concerned about their holiday or flight should seek advice from their airline or holiday company.”

Hospitals bosses say people have been turning up panicked at A&Es asking for sick notes and coronavirus testing, putting pressure on services.

The chief executive of Walsall Healthcare, Richard Beeken tweeted saying: “Our A&E does not provide sick notes nor will we swab you for coronavirus or treat you if you do not meet the criteria for testing or for A&E treatment.

"Please use NHS 111 for first stage advice.”

And Qadar Zada, the deputy chief operating officer for Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust and Dudley Council Labour group leader, tweeted in reply: “We are getting similar requests in Dudley and this advice applies to every A&E in the country and based on national guidance. Let’s keep A&E flowing for emergency patients. Please ring 111 for advice.”

Health officials have also hit out at people stealing hand sanitiser gels from Worcester Royal Hospital, which serves those living in Wyre Forest.

Vicky Morris, Chief Nurse for Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “Hand sanitiser gel is very important in hospitals to ensure we can protect not just from coronavirus but a wide range of potentially very serious infections.

“Stealing bottles of hand sanitiser, or taking large quantities from dispensers in public areas could create serious risks especially for our most vulnerable patients.

"So we would encourage anyone visiting our hospitals to only use these in a sensible manner when entering wards or clinical areas.”

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