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Community testing stepped up as city bids to drive down covid-19 infection rate

Published on Thursday, July 9, 2020

Mobile testing unit volunteers

THOUSANDS of tests are being carried out in Leicester each day as part of the city’s strategy to bring down the coronavirus infection rate.

Last weekend alone, more than 3,000 people were tested at Leicester’s drive-through, walk-in and pop-up test centres – and many more will be tested over the coming days as community testing is stepped up.

This week, hundreds of staff and trained volunteers will be calling on people at home to offer them a free test, with mobile testing units popping up in local neighbourhoods.

Community testing will initially focus on areas in the north-east of the city, where the number of positive results has been higher and people have reported difficulties in getting to test centres, but it will be extended to other parts of the city from this weekend (11-12 July).

Volunteers working with the Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust have already been knocking on doors in Spinney Hills – and they will be working in the Belgrave area until Saturday (11 July).  

The testing team will encourage people to go to a nearby mobile testing unit, or help them book a test online or order a home testing kit.

Householders in St Matthews and in Wycliffe ward will be visited from Sunday (12 July) onwards.

In a separate strand of Leicester’s testing strategy, city council-led teams of volunteers are dropping off testing kits at homes in targeted areas of the city.

Today (Thursday), the teams are in Hamilton, where they are inviting householders to carry out the swab tests in their own homes.

The completed tests will be picked up later today and sent for processing.

More homes in Hamilton will be visited tomorrow (Friday). 

All results will be delivered in a text, directly to the individual’s mobile phone, within 48 hours.

Households in Clarendon Park, Knighton and Stoneygate will be receiving home testing kits from Saturday onwards (11 July), with other areas of the city due to be visited in the coming days. The community testing schedule is available on the city council's website

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “The way to get the infection rate down is to find out who’s affected and stop them from passing the virus on – and the way to do that is through increased testing.

“We’ve been upping the testing in care homes and in the wider community – which means people may see mobile testing units in their neighbourhoods in the coming days, or they may get a knock on the door from one of our volunteers, inviting them to take a free test.

“The response from our communities and from those volunteering to support the testing programme has been really positive, and I would like to thank everyone who’s come forward to get themselves tested – and would urge anyone who’s offered a test to get it done.

“It’s really important that we know where the virus is so that we can isolate it and stop it from being passed on.

“The sooner we do that, the sooner we will see the current restrictions on Leicester lifted.”

The community testing programme is a joint initiative between the city council, the Leicestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups, the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, local health teams and the national test and trace programme.

With the support of partners such as Voluntary Action Leicestershire, De Montfort University and the University of Leicester, the city council has now mobilised more than 350 volunteers to help run the door-to-door testing programme.

The door-to-door testing in neighbourhoods will complement the fixed testing sites at Birstall Park & Ride, Evington Leisure Centre, Spinney Hill Park, Victoria Park, the Highfields Centre, the Shree Prajapati Community Centre, the Overton Road ball court and the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre.

Testing is also being increased in care homes in Leicester, with all staff and residents – around 5,000 people in total – being tested this week.

All care home staff are being offered weekly tests, with residents tested every four weeks.

Anyone noticing the first signs of coronavirus – which could include a high temperature, a continuous cough or changes to their sense of taste or smell  – must stay at home and arrange a test immediately.

Anyone who has been in contact with someone with symptoms should get themselves tested urgently too.

To book a test at a testing centre in Leicester, go to www.nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or call 119.

Anyone testing positive must self-isolate at home for seven days, or until their symptoms have gone.

Anyone living in the same household as someone who tests positive must stay at home for 14 days to stop the virus from spreading.

Advice for everyone in Leicester remains as follows:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Stay 2m apart from anyone outside of your household
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Make essential journeys only
  • Limit your contact with other people
  • Wear a face mask on buses, in hospitals and in any confined space
  • Don’t meet up with people in their homes or in any indoor space
  • Book a test as soon as symptoms appear at nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test
  • No internet access? Call 119 to book your test
  • If you test positive, stay at home for at least 7 days and until you feel better
  • Members of your household should stay at home for 14 days