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Rapid coronavirus testing helping to identify asymptomatic covid carriers

Published on Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Fosse neighbourhood centre testing facility

A WALK-IN centre offering rapid coronavirus testing to those without symptoms is helping to identify people in Leicester who could be passing on the virus without knowing it.

In its first 13 days of operation, the city council-run facility at the Fosse Neighbourhood Centre has processed 2,761 tests – with an average of one test in 30 proving to be positive.

That means that the city’s rapid testing programme has identified more than 90 people with the virus who may otherwise have been inadvertently transmitting the virus to others in Leicester. Anyone who tests positive is asked to take a confirmatory PCR test – which gives a more accurate result – and is told to self-isolate for 10 days. Their close contacts are traced and asked to self-isolate too.

“Even if you have no symptoms, you could still be spreading the virus – and a mild, or imperceptible, illness for you could be a life-threatening disease for someone else,” said Leicester’s director of public health, Professor Ivan Browne.

“That’s why we’re encouraging people with no symptoms to get tested at our walk-in centre. By coming forward for a test, you’ll be helping us to track down the virus and stop it from being passed on. And if you test positive, it’s really important that you self-isolate for 10 days, and that your close contacts self-isolate too. That’s the only way we’ll be able to break the chain of transmission.

“Going out to get a test for coronavirus is a valid reason to leave your home under the rules of the new national lockdown, so please don’t hesitate about coming forward to be tested.”

The lateral flow tests are self-administered, with staff on hand to offer guidance, and are a simple swab of the throat and the nose. Test results are available within an hour.

As well as being a useful tool in the city’s bid to track down those who are spreading the virus without realising it, the lateral flow tests also provide rapid reassurance to people who fear they may have come into contact with the virus.

The walk-in facility was popular with people just before Christmas, with a record 575 tests processed on 23 December. That compares with an average daily total of 221 tests.

The city council is planning to set up further walk-in sites around Leicester so that the testing of asymptomatic people can be extended. Details of these are due to be announced in the next few weeks.

The testing centre at the Fosse Neighbourhood Centre on Mantle Road is open from 9am to 8pm from Monday to Friday, and from 10am until 5pm on Saturday and Sunday for people with no symptoms of coronavirus.

People with symptoms of coronavirus should get themselves tested as quickly as possible by calling 119, and should not go to Fosse Neighbourhood Centre.

Tests – which can also be booked online – can be arranged at one of the city’s many testing sites, which are open every day.

Coronavirus cases have risen sharply in Leicester, with latest figures showing a 7-day rate of 397.5 per 100,000.