Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace have announced that South Gloucestershire will be providing additional community testing for Covid-19, following the identification in the area of the Variant of Concern first identified in Manaus, Brazil (P.1).
Additional community testing, also known as surge testing, will follow the same process that was in place in parts of South Gloucestershire earlier this month. It will invite residents who live in five postcode sectors, who are aged 16 and over and who are asymptomatic (without symptoms of Covid-19), to come forward for testing, as well as people who travel into that area for work or to visit someone they are in a support bubble with.
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
The testing will be provided at two new community surge testing sites, open 9:00AM – 6:00PM, every day from Monday 1 March, which are primarily designed for vehicles. Additionally, a range of community-based Collect & Drop locations will open on Monday, from 9:00AM – 5:00PM, allowing residents to walk-in to collect a test kit, take it home and complete the test there, and return it for processing. We plan for the programme to run for one week and end on Sunday 7 March, with these facilities also being open every day.
The drive-in community surge testing sites will be located at:
- Stoke Gifford Parkway Park & Ride, Huntsground Road, Stoke Gifford, BS34 8PU
- The Mall Coach Park, The Mall Cribbs Causeway, Highwood Rd, Patchway, BS34 5SP
The first two community-based Collect & Drop sites, which will be open from Monday 1 March, will be located at:
- Little Stoke Community Centre, Little Stoke Lane, BS34 6HR
- Patchway Community Centre, Rodway Road, Patchway BS34 5PF
On Tuesday 2 March, three additional Collect & Drop sites will be located at:
- Bradley Stoke Jubilee Centre, Savages Wood Road BS32 8HL (this site will not be open on Friday 5 March)
- Baileys Court Activity Centre, Baileys Court Road, Bradley Stoke BS32 8BH
- Coniston Community Centre, The Parade, Coniston Rd, Patchway BS34 5LP
Surge testing allows us to find and isolate any positive cases of coronavirus, to help break the chain of transmission, by finding asymptomatic cases and prompting people to self-isolate. Positive results will be followed up with genome sequencing to identify the precise strain so that we can learn more about the disease.
The one-off testing will use PCR tests, which are analysed in laboratories, rather than lateral flow tests (also known as rapid tests).
Sara Blackmore, Director of Public Health at South Gloucestershire Council, said: “We are keen that all South Gloucestershire residents in the postcode areas identified take part in this testing, which will help us to identify positive cases and prompt self-isolation, which helps to break the chain of transmission.
“We do recognise the challenge for residents of undertaking another additional testing programme and want to thank you in advance for your patience and support as we continue to work together to protect our communities from Covid-19.
“We are working together with local and regional health partners, Public Health England and NHS Test and Trace, to deliver this swift, safe and co-ordinated response, with an enhanced community testing offer available to people in and around areas where this variant has been discovered.
“This is in addition to the ongoing availability of testing if you have symptoms (please book through the national booking portal either online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119) and regular rapid asymptomatic testing for essential workers. This additional action will enable closer monitoring and work to reduce further transmission of the virus.”
“Even though we have a national road map to recovery from Covid-19, it is vital that we continue to follow the advice, which remains the same to everyone. Behave as if you are carrying the virus, stay in and only leave home if you must. Do not mix socially outside of your household and continue to observe public health guidance – hands, face, space. If you are invited to receive a vaccine, please do so.
“Further information about our community surge testing offer will be made available in coming days as we move quickly to respond. In the meantime, I urge everyone to continue doing the most you can to limit the spread of the virus, to protect yourself and each other.”
Mike Wade, deputy regional director for Public Health England South West, said: “All viruses mutate over time and since the start of the pandemic over 4,000 mutations have been identified in the UK. Most are not a concern for scientists, but we know that some mutations result in virus variants that we are keen to track more carefully.
“In the South West we’re working with NHS Test and Trace and local authority public health teams on tailored intervention measures for variants. These include more testing, additional genomic sequencing and enhanced contact tracing, enabling us to quickly identify any further cases and help prevent any onward spread.
“It’s key that we adapt and respond to the changing nature of Covid-19 in a way that works for our local communities. Taking this targeted approach is essential as we look to take the first cautious steps out of lockdown.
“Around 1 in 3 people with Covid-19 don’t have any symptoms at all, and testing is quick and free. If you are a resident of the identified areas, please take advantage of the opportunity to take a test and keep South Gloucestershire safe.”
Information about the Surge Testing programme will be updated on our website at www.southglos.gov.uk/surgetesting