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First coronavirus assessment centre to open in Belfast

Dr Ursula Brennan said the pace of progress had been ‘phenomenal’.

The first coronavirus assessment centre in Belfast will open on Tuesday.

Dr Ursula Brennan, of the British Medical Association Northern Ireland, said the pace of progress had been “phenomenal”.

She added: “We have managed to identify premises, kit out the centre and staff it within 10 days.”

Another, at Londonderry’s Altnagelvin hospital, has reopened after staff sickness forced its temporary closure.

The Belfast facility at Beech Hall Health and Wellbeing Centre will see patients who have been referred there by their own GPs.

New people tested for coronavirus in the UK
(PA Graphics)

Dr Brennan said: “I want to thank everyone who has really pulled together to get the centre open and ready to assess patients in a very short space of time.”

Patients are referred by GP appointment only and it is not a testing centre.

The centres have been designed to help manage workload and ensure patient safety, Dr Brennan said.

A network of sites is being established across Northern Ireland to help take the pressure off hospitals.

The doctor added: “It is important that patients who do not have suspected Covid-19 are still receiving access to health services provided by GPs.”

GPs who work in the Covid-19 centres will still be able to see their other patients in the community practice due to stringent decontamination procedures.

PA