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 such as 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 they can then isolate and prevent the virus from spreading. One in three people with COVID-19 have no symptoms.
The first testing site will launch at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre on Monday (18th January). It will initially be open five days a week from 9am to 5pm for pre-booked appointments only. Slots can be booked now at https://beta.southglos.gov.uk/book-rapid-flow-test/
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 the virus, returns results within an hour.
Local residents in the areas within which the council sets 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.
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.
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.”
The 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.
Find out what happens at rapid testing at https://youtu.be/X2eNmNUr2r0
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