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Northern Ireland government lab to test up to 1,000 coronavirus samples a day

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Health Minister Robin Swann and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots with principal scientific officer Ken Lennon at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Health Minister Robin Swann and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots with principal scientific officer Ken Lennon at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Health Minister Robin Swann and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots with principal scientific officer Ken Lennon at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Health Minister Robin Swann and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots with principal scientific officer Ken Lennon at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Health Minister Robin Swann and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots with principal scientific officer Ken Lennon at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Health Minister Robin Swann and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots with principal scientific officer Ken Lennon at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press E

Health Minister Robin Swann and Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots with principal scientific officer Ken Lennon at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. Photo by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye

One of Northern Ireland’s government-run agri-food and biosciences labs is now assisting the health service and testing up to 1,000 coronavirus samples a day.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has announced its Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) will help up the number of tests being completed across Northern Ireland for those with suspected coronavirus.

It will deliver this service through a newly-established consortium with Queen’s University and Ulster University, to support the health service in Northern Ireland and help in the fight against the virus.

Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, who visited the facility alongside Health Minister Robin Swann, said: “I want to do all I can to help with the fight against Covid-19 and I am pleased to announce that AFBI laboratories and staff will undertake testing in support of our local Health and Social Care (HSC) testing requirements. We must all work together, across government to support the Health Minister and the health trusts in any way we can.

“Subject to us being able to secure the key test kits and reagents, AFBI is able to offer its technical and scientific expertise which will hugely support the HSC efforts in the critical area of diagnostic testing. When fully operational in a number of weeks it is expected that AFBI may test up to 1,000 samples a day.

“If there is one message I want to reinforce, it is that we are all in this together. Through continued co-operation and collaboration and by supporting each other we will get through this.”