MASS COVID-19 TESTING ROLL OUT FOR NOTTINGHAM
Writing in the Nottingham Post on Tuesday 10 November 2020, Andrew Topping reported that Government has confirmed that Nottingham and Nottinghamshire will be sent an initial batch of 10,000 Covid-19 tests this week as the initial part of a planned roll out. ...
All you need to know as Government announces mass Covid-19 testing for Nottinghamshire
An initial batch of 10,000 tests will be sent to both Nottingham and Nottinghamshire 'this week'
The Government has confirmed that as many as 20,000 testing devices will be sent to Nottingham and Nottinghamshire as part of a new mass testing programme.
The roll-out of the scheme comes as part of the 'Operation Moonshot' programme, aimed at testing swathes of the population to find asymptomatic carriers of coronavirus.
In total 600,000 rapid-turnaround tests will be sent across the country, with 66 directors of public health to receive around 10,000 devices each to be used as part of the programme.
The 'lateral flow' tests can give Covid-19 results in as little as 15 minutes - with results guaranteed within the hour - and are being brought in to test more people in high-risk areas.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed to BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning (November 10) that Nottingham and Nottinghamshire will be included in the roll-out.
It means the directors of public health on Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire County Councils should initially receive 10,000 kits each to test people in the city and county.
This will be increased considerably as weeks go on.
So how does the scheme work? The Government has issued guidance today on why the scheme is in place, and how it will be implemented across the country.
What are the new tests?
The new 'lateral flow' testing kits are a rapid-turnaround technology used to test a higher proportion of asymptomatic people within the community.
The devices use a disposable device like a pregnancy test, where the nose or tonsils are brushed and then the brush is placed in liquid.
Unlike the Pillar 2 community tests currently used for Covid-19 testing, the new kits do not require a laboratory to process a result.
This means results for tests can be provided within within an hour - rather than between 24 and 48 hours - giving those tested a quicker idea of whether they need to self-isolate.
The Government says the testing will "enable us to identify and isolate more people" while also breaking the "chain of transmission".
It is understood the Government has a "very large supply" of the lateral flow tests, with around 600,000 set to be rolled out initially.
How will the roll-out work in Nottinghamshire?
The Government has confirmed dozens of public health directors across the country will receive an initial batch of 10,000 tests each.
Both Nottingham City and Nottinghamshire have been included in the list of 66 areas, meaning 20,000 tests will be sent to our area.
The aim of the roll-out is to enable local public health bosses to deliver community testing "based on their local knowledge".
It means directors of public health will determine how to prioritise the initial allocation, based on the "specific needs" of the community.
Each area will receive an initial batch of the 10,000 'antigen lateral flow devices', with the aim of testing 'priority groups'.
When the scheme was first piloted in Liverpool, these 'priority groups' included front line NHS and care workers, emergency services, school and university students and teachers, and people identified as 'close contacts' of someone with a positive Covid-19 test.
The initial batch will then be followed up with a weekly allocation of 'lateral flow antigen tests'.
This allocation will be the equivalent of 10 percent of a population. For Nottingham City, this is around 33,000 and in Nottinghamshire county this is around 82,000 tests each week.
In Liverpool, where the scheme is currently in place, a number of sites for asymptomatic testing have been set up, as well as mobile testing units and home testing kits.
This is expected to be the same in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, though it is unclear whether the Armed Forces will continue to be deployed at testing centres nationwide.
It has also been confirmed that the mass testing is not compulsory, and people will not be forced into taking one of the new tests.
If somebody visits a testing centre and receives a positive swab on the test, they will be told by NHS Test and Trace to self-isolate in line with Government guidelines.
The Government says the first batch of kits will be sent out to local authorities this week.
What has the Government said on the scheme?
The Government says the roll-out of the testing will provide local leaders with a "more accurate picture" of the number of cases in their area.
In a statement, the Department for Health and Social Care said the testing will pick up people who may not have symptoms, while also supporting local decision-making by public health bosses.
The aim is to support communities at-risk from the virus, and to limit the amount of community transmission from asymptomatic carriers of the disease.
Speaking on the roll-out, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "Last week we rolled out mass testing in Liverpool using new, rapid technology so we can detect this virus quicker than ever before, even in people who don’t have symptoms.
"Mass testing is a vital tool to help us control this virus and get life more normal.
"I am delighted to say 10,000 of these tests will now be sent out by NHS Test and Trace to more than 50 directors of public health as part of our asymptomatic testing strategy.
"I want to thank all directors of public health for their support and efforts over the past months to help us tackle this virus, bring it under control and get the country back to what we love doing."