Targeted COVID-19 rapid community testing gets underway in Wiltshire
Community testing is available for symptom-free people who work for small businesses, private non-maintained early years settings, and childminders
Wiltshire Council has begun to roll out the government's targeted rapid COVID-19 community testing initiative locally to help drive down transmission rates.
The council's programme, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, is specifically aimed at asymptomatic people at small businesses, private early years settings and childminders. Eligible people will take a Lateral Flow Test.
With its targeted approach, community testing aims to reduce the prevalence of the virus.
The testing sites will be located at:
- Chippenham, Monkton Park
- Devizes Leisure Centre
- Salisbury, Five Rivers Health and Wellbeing Centre
- Trowbridge, County Hall
The Devizes and Salisbury test centres are now up and running, with the others due to follow soon. Until the other sites are open, the Devizes and Salisbury sites are currently the only ones that people can book a place for.
The centres cannot accept people dropping in, and everyone must book an appointment and not have any symptoms of COVID-19. The self-administered test should take no more than 15 minutes and results should be known within half an hour.
Free testing continues to be available to everyone in Wiltshire who has COVID-19 symptoms - high temperature, continuous cough or loss of/change in taste or smell. People should visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 to book a test in that instance.
Those in smaller businesses (employees of 50 or less) who cannot work from home, and private (non-maintained) early years settings and childminders have been chosen because they are not currently involved in any other mass-testing scheme.
Anyone who receives a positive Lateral Flow Test result automatically activate legal obligations to self-isolate, and may also claim for a Test and Trace payment if they are eligible.
Kate Blackburn, Director of Public Health for Wiltshire, said: "Rapid community testing for asymptomatic targeted groups is another tool at our disposal to help control and drive down our case rates. If used effectively with other measures it will help reduce the likelihood of the virus spreading.
"I must really stress though that a negative Lateral Flow Test result is not a passport to freedom, and people must still closely adhere to all the COVID guidelines of washing hands regularly, socially distancing, and wearing a face cover where required.
"Local case numbers have fallen recently so we must all continue to play our part and not undo all the progress made recently."
Health Minister Lord Bethell said:
"We've already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter COVID-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.
"Around one in three people have the virus without symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission.
"I'm delighted that Wiltshire Council are working with us roll out community testing in Wiltshire and I look forward to seeing the results."
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 Wiltshire Council in Wiltshire 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."
More information, including FAQs and how to book a test, can be found on our community testing page