FAMILIES in Leicester are being encouraged to take regular coronavirus tests to help ensure the virus isn’t taken into the city’s schools.
Secondary school students, and any adults in their household or childcare bubble, are invited to take two rapid tests a week to make sure they’re not carrying the virus.
And while primary school children and nursery-aged children are not required to take regular tests at this time, their families and support bubbles are being asked to self-test twice a week.
Cllr Elly Cutkelvin, assistant city mayor for education, said: “We’re really pleased with the way that families and schools have responded to the testing programme, with an uptake of around 95% in some schools.
“Thanks to the protocol, a number of positive tests have been picked up in both staff and children – and those individuals are now self-isolating and not spreading the virus around the school.
“By testing themselves regularly, staff, students and their families can help us ensure that our children can continue to learn in the classroom – and that our schools can remain open.”
The rapid tests – also known as lateral flow tests – should only be used by people with no symptoms of coronavirus. Anyone who develops symptoms of the virus, regardless of age, must self-isolate and book a PCR test by calling 119.
People without symptoms can get regular tests at one of Leicester’s six rapid testing centres, which open at 8am from Monday-Friday and at 10am at weekends – making it convenient for people to pop in for a test twice a week.
Jo Allen, the city council’s Covid Response programme manager, said: “We’ve got lots of capacity at our rapid testing sites, so I’d encourage people to use their local facility twice a week to make sure they’re not carrying the virus without realising it.
“It’s important to remember that as many as 1 in 3 people with Covid have no symptoms and feel completely well.
“Testing at our centres takes half an hour or less, and the results are registered with the national test and trace system. And because our staff are on hand to offer assistance, it can often be easier than self-testing at home.”
Adults in a household, a childcare bubble or in regular contact with a child who is in nursery, school or college are encouraged to get twice-weekly tests.
If they can’t get to one of Leicester’s six rapid test sites twice a week, and can’t access regular testing through their employer, eligible adults can collect home testing kits from the city’s various testing sites.
Packs of tests can be collected from NHS-run testing sites from 1pm-8pm each day. In Leicester, these are at Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Highfields Centre, Jubilee Square, Overton Road Ballpark and Victoria Park – but people are advised to check they are open first to avoid a wasted journey.
From tomorrow (Thursday 18 March), packs of tests will also be available to collect from the city council’s six rapid testing sites during normal opening hours. Eligible adults can collect two packs of kits – each containing seven tests – and will be invited to take a supervised Covid test so that they can learn the correct technique before self-testing at home.
Rapid testing sites can be found at: Fosse Neighbourhood Centre (Mantle Road LE3 5HG), Coleman Neighbourhood Centre (Balderstone Close LE5 4ES), Eyres Monsell Community Centre (Hillsborough Rd, LE2 9PQ), Adult Education College (Belvoir Street, LE1 6QL), Tudor Community Centre (Bewcastle Grove, LE4 2JW) and Hamilton Library (Maidenwell Avenue, LE5 1BL). Opening hours are 8am-7pm from Monday to Friday and 10am-5pm at weekends.
Testing kits can also be ordered from www.gov.uk
Anyone self-testing at home is asked to report every result to NHS Test & Trace on the same day that they take the test. This can be done online or by calling 119.
Anyone who tests positive, or has symptoms of coronavirus, is required by law to isolate at home for 10 days – with everyone else in the household or bubble staying at home for 10 days too.
More information about the testing protocol for pupils and students and their families and support bubbles is available on the Government’s website