Devon County Council is launching a community testing programme to identify asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus, people who show no symptoms, and is encouraging critical workers and others who are not already receiving regular testing, to start booking their appointments.
The rapid lateral flow tests give results in around 30 minutes.
Around one in three people who have coronavirus do not show symptoms, so these tests are to identify those non-symptomatic carriers of the virus, to require them to self-isolate immediately to prevent them from transmitting it to others.
The first site has opened at County Hall, Exeter, with at least a further 13 community testing sites planned to open across Devon over coming weeks. Plymouth and Torbay authorities are organising their own rapid community testing in parallel.
The tests are specifically for critical workers and those in high-risk occupations who still have to attend work, such as taxi and bus drivers or retail workers.
They are also for people who are in contact with others who are vulnerable, such as carers, who do not currently display symptoms.
People with symptoms – high temperature; new and continuous cough; change in their usual sense of taste or smell – should self-isolate and arrange a test via the national NHS testing programme, using the GOV.UK website or by calling 119.
The County Hall community testing centre has capacity to process up to 300 tests per day, but potential to scale up to twice that number of tests each day if required.
Steve Brown, Director of Public Health Devon, said:
“Community testing is a quick way of identifying people who are likely to have the virus in order to prevent them from transmitting it to others.
“We’ve initially piloted the County Hall site in order to make sure staff are fully trained and that the testing process itself works smoothly.
“Individuals can choose to walk-through, or drive-through, two testing areas.
“Tests are being turned around quickly, with results back to the individual within the hour, via text and email.
“We’re now calling on people to take the test to help protect others and to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“We have opened up our booking system to larger numbers and are inviting critical workers whose jobs require them to work face to face with others, and people who care for others who are vulnerable.
“A negative test result will mean they’re able to carry on their essential business or caring role, however a positive test result in around half an hour will require them to self-isolate at home.
“It important to stress that taking the test, even if the result is negative, does not discount the need to continue following national guidance around social distancing, wearing a face covering, and washing your hands properly and regularly. These simple steps are still vital in preventing the transmission of the virus.
“The national advice is front line workers and people who have regular contact with the public during their working week, to be tested twice weekly. If you visit see the public less frequently, you may wish to test on the day of the visit or the day before.”
To book a test, visit Devon County Council’s website, http://devon.cc/testing
“We intend to roll community testing to at least 13 locations in Devon this month and next. Most of those will be fixed facilities, while some will be mobile units in order that we can reach rural communities and businesses. Some will be by appointment only, and we will be inviting people to book appointments at their closest venue.”
The exact locations for the sites are yet to be announced, however they will be in the following areas.
Ottery St Mary