Ikea opens Covid-19 test centre for frontline health workers

A coronavirus test centre for NHS workers has opened at an Ikea store in a bid to increase checks for frontline staff.

The drive-through centre has opened in the car park of the Swedish firm’s store in Wembley, north-west London, and Ikea said it is reviewing its other sites to see if any more can be set up.

It comes after the Government pledged to roll out testing to frontline health staff as soon as possible, with Boots setting up similar schemes in Nottingham and Surrey.

More than 9,000 people who have tested positive for coronavirus are currently being treated in UK hospitals and officials said they only expect that figure to grow.

An Ikea spokesman said: “Today, a drive-through NHS Covid-19 test centre has opened in the car park of our Wembley store.

“We are incredibly proud that we are able to support the Government and the NHS in this small way, and are working with them to identify any additional sites that could also support the national effort.”

The spokesman added: “We have also responded to requests from intensive care units and doctors across the country by delivering tens of thousands of our disposable paper tape measures, to help them continue their amazing care for their patients.

“We have also donated food to local hospitals, food banks, and shelters to help provide some immediate relief in the short term.”

The furniture giant said it is also looking at short- and long-term plans to help communities including partnerships with Barnardo’s and refugees charity Breaking Barriers.

Stewards organise traffic at a Covid-19 test centre for NHS workers which has opened at Ikea in Wembley, north-west London (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Last week, during a visit to the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in London’s Docklands, NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said the number of patients in hospital will increase, but added that services set up to handle additional capacity will be available later this week.

He also promised a “ramping up” of staff testing for those working in the NHS.

Other big retail chains including Boots are supporting the Government’s plan to test NHS workers showing symptoms.

The company launched free drive-through centres at its headquarters in Nottingham and at Chessington World of Adventures in Surrey.

Boots said locations for more test centres are still being defined around the country, but they will not be in its stores.

The sites will initially be for NHS staff by invitation only, the company said.