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Sites offering rapid Covid-19 lateral flow tests for key workers in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

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Rapid Covid-19 tests for key workers without any symptoms are being made available across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

Six sites are to offer the free lateral flow tests, which typically take about 15 minutes to give a result, and pop-up sites could also be launched if required in areas of high need.

A coronavirus test
A coronavirus test

The tests have been made available to book for over-18s who do not have any of the coronavirus symptoms following a government commitment to test as many key workers and people who cannot work from home as possible. They are encouraged to go for a test twice a week.

About one in three people infected with Covid-19 show no symptoms and could be spreading the virus without knowing it.

These tests, which use a mouth and/or nose swab, which is placed into a buffer solution, are designed to find positive cases more quickly to help break the chain of transmission.

Under the pilot scheme, 100,000 tests have been allocated to Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council for the next six weeks, and this could be extended.

Where can I get a lateral flow test?

To book a test, people need to visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/rapidtesting or www.peterborough.gov.uk/rapidtesting.

The tests are available at:

  • The Hub, High Street, Cambourne, South Cambridgeshire, CB23 6GW – from Wednesday February 3
  • Queen Mary Centre, Queen’s Road, Wisbech, Fenland, PE13 2PE – from Thursday February 4
  • Soham Town Rangers Football Club, Julius Martin Lane, Soham, Ely, East Cambridgeshire, CB7 5EQ – from Friday February 5.
  • Huntingdon, The Coneygear Centre, Buttsgrove Way, Huntingdon, PE29 1PE – from Thursday February 11
  • Cambridge, The Meadows Community Centre, 1 St Catherine’s Rd, Arbury, Cambridge, CB4 3XJ – from Friday February 12.
  • St Mark’s Church, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, PE1 2SN – already operating.

Each site will be open 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday, apart from the Peterborough site which is open every day from 9am to 2pm and 4pm to 7pm.

What happens after the result?

Anyone testing positive must isolate. But health authorities stress that people must not consider a negative result a “free pass”.

Lateral flow tests are designed to enable rapid testing without the need for laboratory equipment.

They are useful to help identify asymptomatic carriers quickly, but extensive clinical evaluation from Public Health England and the University of Oxford shows they do not detect all positive cases.

And everyone who takes a test, even if found to be negative, must continue to follow the rules, meaning they can only leave home only for essential reasons, limit all contact with people they do not live with and ensure good practices where contact has to be made, such as social distancing, wearing a mask or PPE and hand washing.

Dr Liz Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, said: “With around a third of people infected not showing any signs of the virus, it’s important that we ramp up our testing of people who are symptom-free to break the chains of transmission.

Liz Robin
Liz Robin

“Most people should be staying at home at the moment and limiting all contact with anyone they don’t live with, but we know there are large numbers of people across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who have to leave home to go to work and they are the people we want to target with this testing.

“By testing these people on a regular basis - twice a week for at least six weeks - 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.

“However, it is not the testing itself that will reduce rates of transmission, but what people who are tested then go on to do. If people don’t isolate after a positive result, then we won’t reduce the spread of the virus. This is now a legal requirement.

“Equally, if people regard a negative result as a ‘free pass’ and ignore national guidance it will do more harm than good. While these rapid tests identify many people who are infectious with the virus, some people who are infectious may still get a negative test result.

“This is why it is so important people with a negative test result continue to socially distance and follow the lockdown rules, and to regularly access two tests a week if they are able to.”

What about workplace testing?

During the pilot scheme, both councils will also offer workforce testing where many staff are based on site and in key sectors such as food production.

Groups who may be more vulnerable and therefore more likely to catch the virus will also be offered rapid testing.

Testing involving care home staff will continue to take place separately to the pilot.

Support offered to self-isolate

Cllr Steve Count, the leader of Cambridgeshire Council, said: “Offering rapid testing to people who cannot work from home is just one of a number of ways we are working to reduce rates of Covid-19 in Cambridgeshire.

“For it to be a success, we need people to self-isolate if they test positive and to work with the national NHS Test and Trace team to identify their close contacts.

“If you are reluctant to self-isolate because you cannot afford to, or because of other factors, please get in touch and we can support you. We can break down any barrier that is preventing you from self-isolating.

“Regardless of your test result, please continue to follow the national guidance. You may test negative on a Monday, but by Tuesday you could be infected and passing the virus on to the ones you love.”

Cllr John Holdich, the leader of Peterborough City Council, said: “I urge everyone in our city who cannot work from home to access this testing and play their part in reducing rates of Covid-19 in Peterborough.

“We know it will require a commitment on your part to access a test twice a week, but by doing so you will be helping us to track cases and break the train of transmission.

“Please remember, if you get a positive test, we can support you to self-isolate. If you’ll struggle to pay your bills we can help with a one-off grant and our support hub can assist in many other ways too.

“Above all else, we need you to continue following the national guidance, regardless of whether you’ve had a test recently or not. The rapid test identifies many people who are infectious, but not all of them, and you could develop symptoms within hours of taking it. So please, stay at home as much as possible and avoid all non-essential contact with those outside of your household.”

Baroness Dido Harding, interim executive chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against Covid-19. Increased community testing is a vital additional tool at our disposal to help identify those who are infected and infectious, but unaware that they might be spreading the disease.

“The work of Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council will be essential in driving down transmission rates. I urge all those living in areas where community testing is offered to come forward and get tested.”

What if I have coronavirus symptoms?

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 by visiting nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119.

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