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Rapid COVID-19 Testing for those without symptoms will play a key role in helping us to recover from the pandemic, Health Minister Robin Swann has said.

The Minister was speaking during a visit to the ARC Healthy Living Centre in Irvinestown, Northern Ireland’s first community based Assisted Testing Site.

The site has been established as part of the NI SMART asymptomatic testing expansion programme and will provide testing for staff and volunteers at ARC Healthy Living Centre, as well as for a range of other businesses, organisations and key groups in the local area.

During his visit, the Minister was also able to avail of the opportunity to be tested.

Praising the work of the ARC Centre the Minister said: “Community based testing will play a key role in supporting those who require rapid testing but cannot access this through their workplace or place of education.

“They will also play a key role in supporting the testing requirements for people attending events and support interventions with groups who are considered to be more at risk of COVID-19. For example in areas with a low level of vaccine uptake where there have been outbreaks.

“I would like to commend the leadership and initiative shown by ARC Healthy Living Centre in establishing this centre.”

Jenny Irvine, CEO of ARC Healthy Living Centre said: “As a large employer in the area, we felt it important to lead by example in implementing regular testing for employees and volunteers. This proves a degree of reassurance to staff with public facing roles for their families, our service users and all those with whom we engage. We also want this testing facility to be a community asset, enabling other businesses, organisations and individuals to access to rapid COVID testing free of charge.”

Launched in March 2021, the NI SMART Asymptomatic Testing Programme is currently seeking to roll out rapid testing to anyone who is unable to work from home.

The workforce testing programme has seen strong interest from businesses in the public, private and third sector across Northern Ireland, with over 650 expressions of interest from organisations representing almost 90,000 employees.

In addition, small businesses or organisations with 10 or less employees and people who work from home but are coming into contact with people outside of their household or COVID bubble in the course of their business have a number of options to access rapid LFD tests. These include:

  • Community based assisted testing site (ATS)
  • Community based collection site
  • Home delivery of tests
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