Surge testing in five postcode sectors in South Gloucestershire is to be extended until Sunday 14 March, in order to maximise the opportunity for anyone aged 16 and over, who is asymptomatic (without symptoms of Covid-19), and lives, works or visits someone they are in a support bubble with, in those areas, to take part should they wish. The target postcode sectors remain the same.
The two existing surge testing facilities in Stoke Gifford and Patchway will remain in place for the remainder of the programme, and the five community-based collect & drop sites will also remain open. Furthermore, we will be reaching out directly to residents who may not be able to attend a testing facility or arrange to pick up a home test kit for themselves, to deliver a test kit to them directly and collect it after completion.
The surge testing was put in place following the identification in the area of a Covid-19 Variant of Concern first identified in Manaus, Brazil (P.1). Through extensive enhanced contact tracing work, following their detailed investigations, PHE and the council have identified a small contained group of contacts around the confirmed cases of the Brazilian variant. While the risk to the community of ongoing transmission remains low, the surge testing programme will allow us to identify any cases of asymptomatic Covid-19 in the targeted areas, with all positive PCR tests undertaken in these areas during the surge period being sent for further genomic sequencing to identify the specific variant of the virus present.
Taken together, these actions will help to stem the spread by prompting those with Covid-19 to self-isolate, breaking the chain of transmission, as well as feeding data into our growing understanding of how the virus is changing.
The uptake of the surge testing programme so far has been very good, with 3,806 people attending the mobile testing units in Stoke Gifford and Patchway and 8,828 kits collected from community collect and drop centres, by the end of Wednesday 3 March. So far, 5,495 of those kits have been returned. Anyone who has collected a kit is encouraged to complete it, register it, and return it as soon as they can. All sites are open seven days-a-week to make it as convenient as possible for people to take part.
Sara Blackmore, Director of Public Health at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “The response from the community to this additional testing has been welcomed, with large numbers of people coming forward. We hope by extending the programme to the same two-week period as we ran our first surge programme, and by reaching out directly to those who might not otherwise be able to take part, that everyone who is eligible in the target postcode areas will be encouraged and able to take a test.
“If we do identify any further positive tests early, particularly among those without symptoms, we have an opportunity to stop the spread of the virus. Additionally, every positive test result can be processed to examine the precise variant present, which adds to our scientific understanding of the virus and helps us to be even more effective in controlling it now and in the future.”
Mike Wade, Deputy Regional Director for Public Health England South West, said: “Based on the information we’re continuing to gather, and our dynamic risk assessment, we remain of the view that the risk to the community is low, and are continuing to deliver our precautionary control measures and adapt as necessary to keep our communities safe.
“The important thing to remember is that Covid-19, no matter what variant it is, spreads in the same way. That means the measures to stop it spreading do not change. Stay at home and if you do need to go out for essential reasons, cover your nose and mouth, wash your hands thoroughly and keep your distance.”
“In addition, please do take up the offer of the vaccine if you’ve been invited. Vaccine protects against the most severe cases and Covid 19 related deaths.”
Information about the Surge Testing programme will be updated on our website at www.southglos.gov.uk/surgetesting
The identified postcode areas fall within Bradley Stoke, Patchway and Little Stoke and are different to those that were part of the community surge testing programme which took place between 7 and 21 February. There is no connection between the two programmes.
The postcode sectors are:
• BS32 0
• BS32 8
• BS32 9
• BS34 5
• BS34 6
Testing is available in a number of ways. Two community surge testing sites, open 9:00AM – 6:00PM, seven days-a-week, until Sunday March 14, are primarily designed for vehicles, but walk-through testing is also available:
• Parkway North Park & Ride, Hunts Ground Road, Stoke Gifford, BS34 8PU
• The Mall Coach Park, The Mall Cribbs Causeway, Highwood Rd, Patchway BS34 5SP
Additionally, five community-based Collect & Drop locations are open from 9:00AM – 5:00PM, seven days-a-week, until Sunday March 14. These allow residents to walk-in to collect a test kit, take it home and complete the test there, register the test, and return it for processing. These locations are:
• Little Stoke Community Centre, Little Stoke Lane, BS34 6HR
• Patchway Community Centre, Rodway Road, Patchway BS34 5PF
• Baileys Court Activity Centre, Baileys Court Road, Bradley Stoke BS32 8BH
• Bradley Stoke Jubilee Centre, Savages Wood Road BS32 8HL (this site will not be open on Friday 5 March)
• Coniston Community Centre, The Parade, Patchway BS34 5LP
Public Health England has identified three cases of the Variant of Concern first identified in Manaus, Brazil (P.1), two are from one household in South Gloucestershire with a history of travel to Brazil and there is a third, currently unlinked case in England.
The cases in South Gloucestershire were rapidly followed up by PHE’s Health Protection Team and cases and their contacts identified and tested.