28/07/2021

Rapid Testing Key To Helping Tackle Pandemic - Health Minister

Rapid Testing for those without symptoms will play a key role in helping tackle the pandemic, Health Minister Robin Swann has said.

The Minister was speaking during a visit to the EH Allingham Construction site on the Crumlin Rd Belfast, one of the employer led Assisted Testing Sites in operation in NI.

Praising the work of the EHA Group the Minister said: "By participating in Rapid Testing, employers are protecting their workforces and their families; protecting customers, promoting consumer and supplier confidence; and helping to build economic recovery.

"To date, over 850 private sector businesses in NI have already contacted the Department of Health to register an interest in the programme. This is a positive step, but I would encourage more businesses to avail of the free Lateral Flow Tests and implement Rapid Testing in their workplace. We are extremely fortunate in Northern Ireland to be in a position to have access to a steady supply of effective rapid testing kits."

The Minister added: "I would urge business leaders to make full use of this opportunity and use it as an additional tool to manage the virus in the workplace, and support their business recovery plans".

"I would like to commend the leadership and initiative shown by EHA Group in implementing an Assisted Testing Site for their employees."

The site at EHA Group has been established as part of the NI SMART rapid testing expansion programme and provides testing for 250 staff working on site.
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During his visit, the Minister was able to witness testing being undertaken with staff. The Minister had the opportunity to speak with staff about their thoughts on accessing rapid testing in the workplace.

Jordan Allingham Project Manager/Company Director said: "As a large employer in the area, we felt it important to lead by example in implementing regular testing for employees. This proves a degree of reassurance to staff who are working closely together daily, and ensures that we are managing the transmission of the virus effectively.

"The construction industry has continued to operate throughout the pandemic and we have consistently adapted the way we work to create a safe environment for our employees. As restrictions ease in the greater community, we are adding regular testing to our prevention measures. A lot of our work is in the development of much needed social housing in Northern Ireland and the testing programme is key to ensuring this work can continue without disruption."

Launched in March 2021, the NI SMART Testing Programme is currently rolling out free rapid testing across NI. The workforce testing programme has seen strong interest from businesses in the public, private and 3rd sector across Northern Ireland, with over 1037 expressions of interest from organisations representing almost 129,827 employees.

In addition, small businesses or organisations with 10 or less employees have a number of options to access free rapid LFD tests. These include:

• Community based assisted testing site (ATS)

• Community based collection site

• Home delivery of tests.

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