Ikea Wembley to be used as drive-thru coronavirus test centre for NHS workers

31 March 2020, 09:51

The superstore will be used for tests for NHS workers
The superstore will be used for tests for NHS workers. Picture: PA
EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

A Covid-19 test centre for NHS workers has opened at Ikea's store in Wembley, north-west London.

Amid the coronavirus outbreak, there has been a significant call for increased coronavirus testing for frontline NHS workers.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has urged countries to "test, test, test" as a key part of their strategy to beat the virus.

But officials have admitted the UK does not have the same capacity as other countries that are testing more, including Germany which is conducting around 70,000 per day.

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A spokesman for the Swedish furniture giant said: "We're enormously proud of the NHS and proud to be able to offer Wembley as an additional medical facility.

"We have also responded to requests from intensive care units and doctors across the country by delivering tens of thousands of our disposable paper tape measures, to help them continue their amazing care for their patients.

"We have also donated food to local hospitals, food banks, and shelters to help provide some immediate relief in the short term.

"We are currently working on additional plans to support our communities - both now and in the longer term - in a meaningful way through the ongoing crisis, together with the NHS, and charity partners such as Barnardo's and Breaking Barriers.

"On Friday, Ikea globally announced a fund of 26 million euros in-kind donations to be used across the 30 countries in which we operate, prioritising the needs of high-risk groups and those leading relief efforts."

Last week, during a visit to the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in London's Docklands, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the number of patients in hospital will increase, but added that services set up to handle additional capacity will be available later this week.

He also promised a "ramping up" of staff testing for those working in the NHS.

Other big retail chains including Boots are supporting the Government's plan to test NHS workers showing symptoms.

The company launched free drive-through centres at its headquarters in Nottingham and at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey.

Boots said locations for more test centres are still being defined around the country, but they will not be in its stores.

The sites will initially be for NHS staff by invitation only, the company said.