Dedicated testing for COVID variant in Sefton ending on Friday
Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council has confirmed that dedicated testing in the Borough for the COVID-19 variant first identified in India will end this week.
He said: “Following discussions with Public Health England and close monitoring of case levels in Sefton, we will be ending the dedicated testing in the Formby area on Friday 4th June.
“After a rise in local coronavirus cases and being informed that the variant first identified in India was present in the Borough, we quickly set up specific drive-through and walk-through testing in the Formby area.
“We encouraged people living, working and studying in the area to come forward for the specific testing and I would like to thank the thousands who have come forward and done just that.
“I would also like to thank all the Sefton Council teams involved in setting up and running the dedicated testing so quickly as well as all the work of Public Health England and our partners in supporting the initiative.
“Fortunately, the proportion of cases related to the variant remained relatively low and we are now in a position where we can step down the specific testing.”
During around three weeks of dedicated testing in Sefton for the variant first identified in India, over 3,100 PCR tests were carried out at drive-through, walk-through and pop-up test sites.
Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones, said that the very high level of uptake for first and second doses of the vaccine in the Formby area offered protection which played a part in controlling the virus in the area.
But despite the end of dedicated testing and the low incidence of the variant detected, Cllr Maher warned that Sefton was far from being out of the woods. He urged people living, working and studying in the Borough along with visitors to remain cautious.
Cllr Maher continued: “Vaccinations have played a key role in suppressing the spread of coronavirus and the variant and if we are going to continue making progress back to normality, it is vital that people go and get their first and second jabs when they are invited.
“We also need people to carry on taking the free, easily-available rapid tests twice a week to ensure they are not infected but not showing symptoms.
“And it’s vital that anyone who does get a positive result or develops symptoms must self-isolate and book a PCR test straight away. Self-isolating means staying at home and not going out for any reason such as shopping or exercise and trying to reduce the risk of infecting other family members where possible. Advice on support and self-isolating tips are on our website at www.sefton.gov.uk/isolating.”
“Also, we need everyone who is offered their first or second vaccination to go along and have their jabs, because the vaccines offer the best protection from the virus and its variants, particularly when combined with social distancing, mask-wearing and thorough handwashing.”
RAPID testing for people without symptoms continues at Bootle Strand and Southport’s Splash World. The Splash World site is open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. The Bootle Strand site, the former H Samuel unit, is open 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays.
RAPID Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) provide people with a result in around 30 minutes.
People without symptoms who are going to work or are out and about regularly should also be taking home RAPID home tests twice a week. RAPID home testing involves taking a throat & nasal swab, dropping the sample into the container supplied and then checking for the result after 20 to 30 minutes.
Around one third of people with coronavirus do not show any of the tell-tale symptoms of a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of taste or smell. Taking regular rapid tests helps those asymptomatic carriers to help make sure we don’t pass on the virus accidentally.
Free RAPID test kits are available from any Sefton pharmacy and between 2.30pm and 8pm, seven days a week from the Borough’s walk-through Local Test Centres. These are located opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Crosby Library Car Park, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall.
People who aren’t confident about taking a rapid test at home can choose to go for an assisted test at Sefton’s new Bootle Strand or Southport Splash World test sites.