A COVID-19 mobile testing unit for the general public arrived in Strabane at the weekend amid growing concern about the rapid rise in the number of positive cases in the town – and elsewhere across Tyrone.
As it stands, there is no permanent public testing facility anywhere in the county.
The Public Health Agency (PHA) currently operates ‘fixed’ drive-through sites in Belfast, Derry, Craigavon and at St Angelo Airport, outside Enniskillen, as well as further mobile testing units.
The PHA say these mobile units provide a temporary testing site that can be set up quickly in response to local demand.
When the Tyrone Herald asked the PHA whether a permanent testing facility would be opened in either Omagh or Strabane, a spokesperson replied there were no further plans for more fixed sites at the moment.
But she confirmed the arrival of one of its mobile testing units at Melvin Sports Complex in Strabane.
The spokesperson said, “You, or any member of your family, should only have a test if you have the symptoms of Covid-19, which are a new continuous cough, or a high temperature, or a change in your sense of taste or smell.
“Details on how to book a test can be found on the PHA’s website www.pha.site/coronavirus.”
She added, “When awaiting your test result, you must self-isolate.”
The PHA has not specified for how long the mobile testing unit will be in Strabane.
The spokesperson added, “As the mobile testing units are dependent on need there are no fixed timescales for deployment.”
With the numbers of positive cases spiking across Tyrone, there have been renewed calls for a permanent public testing facility to be sited in the county.
While the Western Health Trust is due to open a testing centre in the grounds of Omagh’s Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital at the end of this month, a spokesperson has stressed this will not be for the general public.
“The testing centre at Beech Villa is for staff, their household and Trust patients who are due to have elective procedures only,” the trust spokesperson confirmed.