RAPID coronavirus tests for people without symptoms will begin in Rugby tomorrow (Tuesday January 5), in a bid to identify undiagnosed cases and stop people ‘unwittingly spreading the virus’.
A new test centre at the Indian Centre in Edward Street will use fast-turnaround lateral flow test kits supplied by NHS Test and Trace, with the aim of protecting those most at risk and helping the town start to return to normal life.
Lateral flow antigen tests are a new kind of technology that can be used to test a higher proportion of people without symptoms, making it easier to identify and isolate more people who could spread the virus, and to break the chains of transmission.
The centre is being delivered in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care, Warwickshire County Council, Rugby Borough Council, and a network including volunteers.
It complements testing facilities already up and running in Leamington, Bedworth, Nuneaton and Water Orton, and a site due to open in Stratford on January 12.
Dr Shade Agboola, Director of Public Health at Warwickshire County Council, said: “This is the fifth test centre to open in Warwickshire to the local community and an additional test centre will open in Stratford next week.
“The new testing facility for Rugby will play a key role in tackling Covid-19. By testing people who don’t have symptoms, we are hoping to identify those who are not aware that they have the virus and may be unwittingly spreading it to other people – including friends, loved ones and work colleagues.
“By breaking the chain of transmission and picking up those who are asymptomatic, we hope that we will reduce the spread of the virus and protect those who are most at risk.
“The tests are really simple to do using a swab from your nose and mouth, and you will be supported throughout the process by the test centre staff.
“Results are quick and should you test positive, help and advice is available. We would advise that residents take up the opportunity to get tested weekly to ensure that they help to reduce the spread of the virus in their community.
“Only by working together can we make a difference, so please play your part, support your community and go along to your nearest testing facility and get a free test.”
Rugby Borough Council leader Coun Seb Lowe said: “With one in three infections in people without symptoms, there could be many more residents who are currently infected and don’t know it.
“These rapid tests will be another tool that will help us to identify cases of Covid-19 and prevent onward transmission. The earlier we can identify these cases the fewer people will be infected.
“I would ask all residents in areas with particularly high rates of infections, such as Benn ward, Coton and Boughton, Admirals and Cawston, and New Bilton, to book one of these rapid tests as soon as they are able. A negative test can reassure residents that they are not infectious at the time they take the test, while a positive test will mean that they can take steps to protect their friends and family.
“This programme is one that we have been working on with partners now for some time, and I look forward to it opening and reaching its potential to tackle the spread of the virus within our borough.”
Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “Innovations such as lateral flow testing holds the key to the next phase of our ambition to see mass, rapid testing available to people across the country.
“I’m delighted that Warwickshire County Council along with colleagues Rugby Borough Council are working with us to pilot the latest technology in Rugby, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour, both in helping target the virus locally, and helping find ways to roll this technology out further soon.”
The tests will be available for those without symptoms of Covid-19 from Tuesday (January 5) at the Indian Centre, 1 Edward Street, Rugby, CV21 2EZ.
The tests are available for booking between 8am and 8pm, Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday and can be used weekly.
Visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/rugby-covid-community-testing-32080676711 to book a test.
Only people without Covid-19 symptoms should book a test at the Edward Street centre. Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 – a high temperature, a new continuous cough or a change to their sense of taste or smell – must self-isolate and book a test via https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.
Those who test positive can visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/information-coronavirus/coronavirus-services-support/1 for advice.