Rapid testing sites now open across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough
Almost 3,000 rapid tests were carried out by people who are leaving home regularly for work, volunteering or training last week at one of six new testing centres launched to seek out people with no symptoms who have Covid-19.
Testing sites are now open in Peterborough and every Cambridgeshire district, with the final two centres, in Cambridge and Huntingdon, opening at the end of last week.
In the week commencing 8 February, 2,975 tests were carried out. Everyone who tested positive has been offered guidance from NHS Test and Trace around the self-isolation process and the support available if they need it.
Since the rapid testing began at the start of the month, 4,735 tests have been carried out.
More than 80 workplaces have also expressed an interest in conducting lateral flow testing on site for staff members who cannot work from home.
Dr Liz Robin, Director of Public Health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: "This is a really good start to our roll-out of rapid testing for key workers and those who need to leave home regularly for work, volunteering or training across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
"Some of the sites have only just launched, so we expect the numbers accessing the tests to rise in the days and weeks to come.
"It remains that up to one in three people with Covid-19 infection show no signs of the virus and could be spreading the disease without knowing it. So it is really important that we continue to offer rapid turnaround tests to as many people as possible who are leaving home regularly, to break the chains of transmission.
"By testing these people on a regular basis - twice a week ideally - we can reduce the number of cases of Covid-19 across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, limit the number of people who might die or become very ill as a result of the virus and protect our NHS."
Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council are offering the tests as part of a six-week pilot, with the potential for this to be extended. It follows the commencement of rapid testing in Peterborough in December for communities where rates were the highest.
Rapid tests are being offered to people aged 18 and over who have no symptoms of Coronavirus. There is no cost to take a test. The process of taking a test takes on average 15 minutes from arrival to departure.
There are now six sites across the county, with the potential to set up pop-up sites in areas of high need if required.
Tests are available in the following locations:
- The Hub, High Street, Cambourne, South Cambridgeshire, CB23 6GW.
- Queen Mary Centre, Queen's Road, Wisbech, Fenland, PE13 2PE.
- Soham Town Rangers Football Club, Julius Martin Lane, Soham, Ely, East Cambridgeshire, CB7 5EQ.
- Huntingdon, The Coneygear Centre, Buttsgrove Way, Huntingdon, PE29 1PE.
- Cambridge, The Meadows Community Centre, 1 St Catherine's Rd, Arbury, Cambridge, CB4 3XJ.
- St Mark's Church, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, PE1 2SN.
To book a test, people need to visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/rapidtesting or www.peterborough.gov.uk/rapidtesting
Dr Robin added: "We not only need people to have these tests regularly if they are leaving home for work, we also need them to act responsibly when they get their result. If you test positive, please isolate at home with other members of your household and ask for help if you need it. There is lots we can do to help you to self-isolate, including offering grants to those who will struggle financially or help with accessing food shopping, fetching medicines and so on.
"The NHS Test and Trace Service will also get in touch with you to offer advice and ask about contacts. If you test negative, please continue to follow national guidance and limit all non-essential contact with others. While the rapid test identifies many people with the virus it doesn't identify everyone - so following the lockdown rules and other Covid-safe behaviours is essential even if you have a negative test."
Lateral flow tests are a new kind of technology that can be used to test a higher proportion of asymptomatic people and do not require a laboratory to process the test.
Extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford shows lateral flow tests do not detect all positive cases, but they can be helpful as part of a targeted testing programme to identify asymptomatic people quickly.
Everyone who takes a test, even if it is returned negative, must continue to follow the rules which includes leaving home only for essential reasons, limiting contact with people they do not live with and ensuring good practices where contact has to be made, such as social distancing, wearing a mask or PPE and hand washing.
People with symptoms will not be tested at the rapid testing sites. Anyone with one or more of these Coronavirus symptoms - a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste - should book a test at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.