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High-speed Covid-19 test available to NI public this weekend

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A high-speed test for Covid-19 is being made available to the Northern Ireland public for the first time this weekend. A nurse at Antrim Area Hospital tests a woman for the virus

A high-speed test for Covid-19 is being made available to the Northern Ireland public for the first time this weekend. A nurse at Antrim Area Hospital tests a woman for the virus

A high-speed test for Covid-19 is being made available to the Northern Ireland public for the first time this weekend. A nurse at Antrim Area Hospital tests a woman for the virus

A high-speed test for Covid-19 is being made available to the Northern Ireland public for the first time this weekend.

The test - called a lateral flow test - give 98% accurate results in just 15 minutes, according to URCare, the Bangor-based company handling its introduction.

The new test, which costs £95 and must be booked through an appointment system, will be administered at City of Derry Rugby Club, Coleraine Rugby Club and Clandeboye Estate in Co Down this weekend, URCare CEO Roger Alexander said.

The tests supplied by URCare are manufactured by Healgen, a US subsidiary of Chinese firm Zhejiang Orient Gene Biotech, which develops, manufactures and commercialises diagnostic test systems worldwide.

The test, which is carried out by medical professionals, involves a nasal swab, which is treated with a solution which identifies whether the virus is present.

The whole process takes a quarter of an hour, the company said.

"You get your result very quickly," Mr Alexander told the Belfast Telegraph. "You go in, you get tested, and you drive away knowing whether you're positive or negative."

Lateral flow tests for Covid-19 were used in the recent testing pilot programme in Liverpool, and Public Health England (PHE) and the University of Oxford say they are accurate and sensitive enough to be used in the community, including for asymptomatic people.

Mr Alexander - a former non-executive director in the South Health and Social care Trust - said the tests are also being used to give fast answers for medical staff who need to know whether they have contracted the virus or not, so that unnecessary self-isolation is avoided.

At present, most tests for Covid are what is known as PCR tests, which can take several days before someone tested receives a result.

There have also been criticisms that PCR tests can generate many 'false positive' results.

Belfast Telegraph


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