Groups of South Gloucestershire residents will be able to get rapid Covid-19 tests from next week as the council extends its community testing.
Anyone living or working in South Gloucestershire will be able to get access to the tests with critical workers and volunteers in roles which bring them into contact with the community being prioritised with the offer of weekly slots.
The aim is to offer this opportunity to those who cannot work from home in the current lockdown as they deliver key services like childcare, transport, essential shopping, and looking after vulnerable people.
Rapid Testing (also known as community testing) to find residents who have Covid-19 who are not symptomatic is helpful as those people can then isolate and prevent the virus from spreading.
The first testing site will launch at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre on Monday (18 January). It will initially be open five days a week from 9am-5pm for pre-booked appointments only. Slots can be booked now at Book a Covid-19 rapid test – for people without coronavirus symptoms. A second site is expected to open in Kingswood the following week and the sites will be moved around the district over the course of the programme.
The test, which uses a sample of saliva to look for signs of Covid-19, returns results within an hour.
South Gloucestershire Council Cabinet Member for Adults and Housing, Councillor Ben Stokes, said: “Rapid Testing is another important tool that will help us in our efforts to counter the coronavirus. In every case where we can identify someone who is infected and make sure they self-isolate, we are helping to break the chain of transmission.
“The Lockdown will be crucial in helping to stop the spread, but we all rely on critical workers who have to be out in the community during lockdown to provide the services we all need and so I hope they will take up this offer for testing. Around one in three people who are infected with Covid have no symptoms, and so for every case we can intercept in this way, we reduce the risk of people inadvertently spreading the infection.
“It is important to remember that the way we can all help control the spread is to act like we are infected with Covid and everyone, even those who receive a negative result must continue to follow Hands Face Space, follow the Lockdown rules and limit their contact with others.”
Critical workers not already part of national testing programmes include health and social care staff, early years and nursery workers, funeral directors, crematorium and cemetery staff, bus and taxi drivers, staff in essential shops.
Local residents in the areas within which we set up testing facilities are also encouraged to take up the offer of Rapid Testing. Further testing facilities will be established in other parts of the district in the coming weeks.
Anyone who tests positive using a rapid test must isolate immediately and take a further, confirmatory, ‘PCR’ test to confirm the result. They will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace. Information about financial and practical support available for anyone who needs to self-isolate is available at Coronavirus (Covid-19) | South Gloucestershire Council (southglos.gov.uk).
Anyone who gets a negative result must continue to follow the national guidelines and go out only when it is essential, or to exercise once a day. Wash their hands, wear a face covering if they can, and stay at least 2 metres away from anyone not in their household or support bubble.
South Gloucestershire Director of Public Health, Sara Blackmore, said: “Anyone can spread the virus without having symptoms, which is why this new testing programme is an important new tool for us to identify people who may have the illness without knowing. With additional information we can take additional steps to help keep South Gloucestershire safe.”
South Gloucestershire Rapid Testing is for people aged 16 and over. Younger people should be able to access tests through the national schools programme, which is currently being established.
Rapid testing is different from the tests already available to anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus. People with these symptoms – a new continuous cough, loss of or change in sense of taste or smell, or a high temperature – should continue to self-isolate and book a Covid-19 test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119. Testing for those with symptoms is available to everyone now and anyone who has symptoms should get tested.