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Transcript of Public Health Director Margaret Jones’ video on SMART COVID testing

SMART testing refers to an approach that’s been developed from the pilot asymptomatic testing that’s been taking place in Liverpool.

Asymptomatic testing is testing for COVID among people who don’t have the symptoms of a new persistent cough, high temperature or loss of send of smell or taste.

It used the same process that we use in the other testing sites for people who do have symptoms but the Lateral Flow tests used to find out whether someone has the virus can be done on the same site and we get the results back in about half an hour.

We’ll be offering this test to people across the whole of Sefton, and I’d encourage people to come along for a test not just once but on a repeat basis to see if they have the COVID virus.

The important this to remember is these tests are for people who don’t have coronavirus symptoms. Please don’t come along to these sites if you have symptoms or you have tested positive or coronavirus in the last 90 days.

The roll-out of SMART testing is happening across the Liverpool City Region and in many ways, it’s similar to the pilot in Liverpool.  It’s not going to be exactly the same or the same scale as Liverpool and that’s because we have been very lucky to learn from the Liverpool experience.

Our testing is going to be a bit more targeted. Anyone without symptoms can come along to be tested but we’d especially encourage those people who may be, because of their work, or setting at higher risk of exposure to the virus.

That could be people working in frontline services – either for the Council or in schools or in emergency services or it might be people who are working for the public – in shops or retail for example.

Once we have the stems for testing up and running, we’ll also try to work with vulnerable workplaces to see if we can come out and test staff and where appropriate test service users too.

SMART testing will help us find more people with COVID. It will be those people who DON@T have symptoms but who DO have the virus. If we can find those people early, we can help them avoid passing on the virus to other people.

This is really important for carers and for those who work with vulnerable people. If find out you are positive it means you can take steps to self-isolate, let your colleagues know and prevent passing the virus on to vulnerable people in you care.

It also means you are less likely to pass it on, without knowing, to your family and loved ones. And we may even be able to identify particular areas where we didn’t know the virus was spreading.

SMART testing alone won’t get rid of COVID so it’s really important to follow the current advice, to not mix with other households either at home or in pubs or restaurants, to keep using face coverings in shops and on public transport and in communal areas, in school for example. And keep washing hands and keep that 2-metre distance.

All of that together, along with testing, will help to reduce the level of the virus and help us reduce all the opportunities the virus has to spread.

We’ve had support from the military in setting up our dedicated SMART testing sites and we’ve got three at the moment. Bootle Leisure Centre Southport’s Splash World, and Aintree Racecourse.

Initially it will be the military who operate the testing sites but very quickly they will be handed over to a dedicated team of staff recruited by the Council.

If you get a positive result at a SMART testing site, we need to treat this in the same way as anyone who develops coronavirus symptoms, a raised temperature, persistent cough or loss of taste or smell. You would need to self-isolate and you would need to arrange to have another test at a regular national testing site here in Sefton.

You can do that by calling 119 or visiting to book a test. That test is to confirm that you DO have the virus.

If the test comes back positive, you’ll be contacted by the national test and Trace system and advised on the length of time you will need to isolate.

If it comes back negative you’ll be able to stop isolating and is because the PCR test used at the national sites is very sensitive and we take this as our ‘gold-standard’ test.

We expect SMART testing to be with us for the next few months at least. We obviously need to work without partners and the residents of Sefton to make sure that the sites are open at the right time and are easy to get to. An we’ll also look to develop pop-up or mobile testing to reach out to those who might need help to take part in testing.