RAPID Covid-19 community testing is to begin in Rugby in early January, with the hope of driving down transmission rates and relaxing restrictions in the borough.
The tests will aim to identify people who have the virus but show no symptoms – which occurs in around one in three cases – stopping people from unwittingly spreading the disease, finding positive cases more quickly, and breaking chains of transmission.
Community testing aims to reduce the prevalence of the virus in the highest risk areas. Taken together with existing restrictions, it is hoped community testing will help areas in Tier 3 move towards Tier 2.
Rugby will receive a batch of lateral flow tests as part of a new pilot to enable local public health leaders to start testing.
Rugby Borough Council’s preferred model of providing multiple testing sites close to communities has not been supported, so a single mass testing site will be provided. A location has been identified and will be confirmed subject to survey.
Council leader Coun Seb Lowe said: “We have been working on plans for mass testing for some time with partners in public health, and it is a welcome step forward to have government confirmation that lateral flow tests can begin as soon as plans are finalised.
“While we had hoped to have testing already underway at local test centres, I hope it will not be long before the central test centre will be open.
“I know that all of Rugby’s residents and businesses want Rugby to move to a lower tier of restrictions as soon as possible. If we can identify more positive cases in residents who are asymptomatic we have a better chance of isolating the virus and preventing its onward spread.
“I would urge all residents to take part in the programme once it is up and running in the new year.”
Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter Covid-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.
“Roughly one in three people show no symptoms so could be spreading the disease without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly, and break chains of transmission.
“I’m delighted that Rugby Borough Council is working with us to roll out community testing in Rugby, and I look forward to seeing the results.”
The existing free PCR testing service for those with symptoms will continue alongside the new community testing service. Anyone with one or more of these symptoms – a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to sense of smell or taste – should book a test at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119. The PCR test centre in Railway Terrace is open seven days a week.
Testing should be available for asymptomatic individuals from early January 2021.
Visit www.rugby.gov.uk/coronavirus for more information as it becomes available.