Enhanced community testing in Stoke-on-Trent
- Stoke-on-Trent is one of 67 councils in Tier 3 areas set to benefit from enhanced community testing as part of our Covid Winter Plan.
- More than 1.6 million rapid-turnaround tests across England will be deployed for immediate use this month.
- Community testing offers a route out for those living under the toughest restrictions, helping reduce cases in areas where need is greatest.
More than 1.6 million rapid-turnaround lateral flow tests will be deployed immediately for use this month in the first wave of areas currently in Tier 3 across England – including in Stoke-on-Trent.
Over 100 local authorities are currently engaged with the programme, which run for a minimum of 6 weeks, with more Tier 3 rollouts due to begin over the coming weeks and into the new year.
Community testing builds on the 1.5 million rapid-turnaround testing kits that have been delivered to 90 local authorities across all levels of tier restrictions, expanding the capacity for asymptomatic testing.
Proactively testing asymptomatic individuals will help identify those who unknowingly have the virus, breaking the chains of transmission in communities where infections are highest and offer a route out for those areas living under the toughest restrictions as we work to keep the virus under control.
Commenting, Jo Gideon MP said:
“While we continue to make fantastic progress on the rollout of a vaccine, we cannot afford to become complacent about the threat of coronavirus, which continues to remain a real danger within our communities.
“Community testing is one of the most powerful tools we have to break the chain of transmission and drive down the infection rate in areas like mine where the virus remains prevalent, and I would encourage everyone in Stoke-on-Trent to get tested so together we can keep the virus under control.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said:
“I am really pleased to announce the first areas embarking on enhanced community testing programmes - after the successful work in Liverpool. With one in three people with coronavirus showing no symptoms, 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.
“Community testing will be very important in helping the areas where levels of the virus are highest to drive down infection rates and ultimately will help areas ease tougher restrictions.
“This is just the start, and we are working quickly to roll out community testing more widely as soon as more local teams are ready. I urge all those living in areas where community testing is offered to come forward and get tested.”
- Introducing extensive community testing in areas that were placed into Tier 3 restrictions on 2 December. From 12 December, 67 local authorities that were placed under Tier 3 restrictions will be given additional support to deliver their own extensive community testing programmes for a minimum of six weeks, with 1.6 million rapid-turnaround tests ready for immediate delivery for use this month, with many more to follow – giving communities a direct route out of the toughest restrictions (DHSC, Press Release, 12 December 2020, link; HMG, Covid-19 Winter Plan, 23 November 2020, link)
- Building a huge new testing regime – meaning we now have one of the best testing rates in the world and the largest testing capacity in Europe – and we have reached our target for 500,000 tests a day by the end of October. From a starting point of around 3,000 tests in March, we now have capacity to process over 500,000 every day – with capacity almost doubling since the end of August. We have also established seven Lighthouse labs to process tests and have increased the number of testing sites to more than 700 – and with 40 new test sites opening every week, the median distance people are now travelling to a test centre is just 2.3 miles (DHSC, Press Release, 12 December 2020, link, link; DHSC, Press release, 29 October 2020, link).
- Launching our successful community testing pilot in Liverpool, deploying thousands of rapid Covid-19 tests to all residents and workers, whether they had symptoms or not. Our first pilot of whole city testing in England was made possible by the dramatic increase in testing capacity and new technologies. All those living or working in Liverpool were offered coronavirus tests, whether they had symptoms or not, helping identify more positive cases and break chains of transmissions – in a city that had one of the highest rates in the country (DHSC, Press release, 3 November 2020, link).
- Planning a steady but massive expansion in the deployment of quick turnaround tests. As the Prime Minister said in October, we now have the immediate prospect of using many millions of cheap, reliable and above all rapid turnaround tests, which people can use themselves to tell whether or not they are infectious and get the result within ten to 15 minutes. The army has been brought in to work on the logistics and the programme will begin in a matter of days, and we will work with local communities, local government, public health directors and organisations of all kinds to help people discover whether or not they are infectious (10 Downing Street, Speech, 31 October 2020, link).