Targeted, SMART COVID-19 testing for residents who don’t have COVID-19 symptoms starts in Sefton this week.
This extension of the successful testing that has been taking place in Liverpool will help prevent people who have the virus but not its symptoms, from unknowingly passing it on to family and friends, some of whom may be vulnerable.
Initially, Sefton Council will be encouraging those who work in frontline services, those who work with vulnerable residents and schools staff to come forward for testing.
Ten thousand tests will be available each week in Sefton. Focusing on identifying people who are positive will help prevent onward transmission and protect those people for whom the virus could be dangerous or fatal. It will also help contract tracing and identifying potential infection hotspots.
The tests used for the SMART programme are Lateral Flow Tests which provide a result in about 30 minutes. People who have had a positive coronavirus in the past 90 days should not attend.
Military staff have testing sites at:
- Splash World in Southport – now open
- Bootle Leisure Centre – opening Thursday 10th December
- Aintree Racecourse- opening Friday 11th December.
All three centres will be open from 9am to 6pm, seven days a week. Operation of the sites will transfer from the military to the 75 staff the Council has recruited and trained to run them. Once the three sites are up and running, the Council will look at setting up mobile or pop-up sites.
Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “The roll-out of this testing will help to identify people who have the COVID-19 virus but not the symptoms and drive down the R-number in Sefton and the City Region.
“Initially, we are focusing the available resources on groups where we have identified testing will have the greatest effect in reducing transmission and protecting vulnerable people and the frontline staff who work with them.
“Plus, the results will feed into the local contract tracing and will help us identify where hotspots of infections might be emerging.
“We have to remember though, a negative result is not a free pass to ignoring the Tier 2 restrictions we are all following. A negative test result means people are not infectious on that day but that can change, which is why we will be repeating tests with our target groups.
“And, of course it’s vital that anybody who does develop the coronavirus symptoms, self isolates and calls 119 or visits www.nhs.uk/coronavirus immediately to book a test.”
Anyone who shows a positive result after their SMART Test will then be advised on isolating and making an appointment for a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test that will confirm whether they have the virus
Sefton residents who don’t have coronavirus symptoms can also use Liverpool test sites to get a test. Details of how and where people can get a test are at https://liverpool.gov.uk/communities-and-safety/emergency-planning/coronavirus/how-to-get-tested/symptom-free-testing/