CITY council staff are knocking on doors in Leicester once again, as the council launches a new phase of community testing to help track down the coronavirus and stop its transmission.
Householders in areas of the city with higher levels of infections are being asked to take a simple swab test – even if they don’t have any symptoms.
In an extension of the asymptomatic testing scheme that helped bring Leicester’s infection rate down to just 25 per 100,000 in August, the city council hopes to deliver and process 500 tests every day – that’s in addition to the testing capacity available at the city’s walk-in and drive-in test centres.
With most test results confirmed within 48 hours, those carrying the virus can be quickly identified and asked to self-isolate, and people they have been in close contact with can be traced and isolated too – preventing the virus from being passed on.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “Testing is vitally important as it provides us with the information we need to track the virus – and the evidence we need to show that the infection rate is falling in Leicester.
“While we wait for the go-ahead from the Government to roll out the new, quicker lateral flow tests, it’s vital that we crack on using whatever means we have at our disposal – so I’m pleased that we’ve been able to re-mobilise our staff and press on with asymptomatic testing in these key areas of the city.
“If we offer you a test, I would urge you to take it – and of course anyone with symptoms should stay at home and book a test as quickly as possible, and not wait for us to knock on their door.”
Leicester’s director of public health Professor Ivan Browne said: “In contrast with June, when higher levels of infection were focused in the north and east of the city, we’re now seeing the virus spreading in all areas of Leicester. Although numbers are starting to come down, we’re still seeing high rates of infection in areas such as Braunstone, Hamilton, St Peters and St Matthews.
“Using our doorstep teams, we’ll be working our way through these areas, and offering self-testing kits to everyone in the household who’s aged 2 or over.
“By searching out the virus, and ensuring that those with it isolate and don’t pass it on to others, we will be able to bring the transmission rate down in Leicester.
“The good news is that overall numbers are coming down, but we remain very concerned about the infection rate in Leicester – and no one must think that the development of a vaccine means they can be less vigilant.
“We must all continue to be on our guard and follow the rules about household mixing, hand hygiene and social distancing that will help keep us safe.”
The outreach team will drop off easy-to-use self-testing kits for each member of the household aged 2 and over, returning within half an hour to collect the completed swabs.
Test results will be sent by text, normally within 48 hours.
The community reach teams are comprised of the city council’s own staff. Fifteen teams of six will work their way through each target area at any one time, with all those working on the doorstep scheme wearing full PPE and having their official ID clearly on display.
Today (Tuesday), the team were knocking on doors in the Hamilton area, with homes in Charnwood ward due to be visited tomorrow.
A guide to where the community testing team will be each day can be found on the city council’s website at www.leicester.gov.uk/coronavirus Choose ‘Community testing (door to door)’ from the drop-down options.
Although Leicester's rate remains one of the highest in the country (currently 14th in England), there have been some positive signs in recent days, with the rate continuing to fall. The rate per 100,000 now stands at 318 (to 25 November) – down from 453 per 100,000 last week.