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  • Writer's pictureDan Heley

Council working to bring mass testing to Weston

Council bosses have confirmed that mass rapid coronavirus testing is to be brought to North Somerset.

It is understood that the council are currently undertaking planning on the logistics of setting up mass community testing across the district. The move follows the announcement that Weston-super-Mare, along with all of North Somerset, will be placed under Tier 3 restrictions when the Government lockdown ends on December 2nd.

The council will be working with the NHS and the army to enable the Covid tests, which can deliver results within an hour. This comes after the Government announced last week that areas of England with the toughest coronavirus restrictions will be offered mass community testing to help control the spread of Covid-19. It is understood the support will be offered via the NHS Test and Trace and that the armed forces will deliver a 6-week rapid community testing programme as was seen launched through a pilot scheme in Liverpool earlier this month.

Community testing will make use of rapid tests which give results within an hour, and will focus on locating and suppressing asymptomatic (those without symptoms) transmission. The more cases that are identified with people then self-isolating, the quicker the virus will come under control and transmissions will fall, which is essential to helping Weston move down a tier.

The mass testing method differs from that which the town has been able to access to date.

Unlike this test, which has been used for a number of months to determine if a person has Covid, the new test does not need to be sent to a laboratory and can be processed on site.

With around 14,000 military personnel standing ready to help out in the coronavirus effort nationally, it is uncertain at this time the size of any deployment to the town to assist NHS Test and Trace with their work or how long it may be until the town is selected for the scheme to be rolled out.

On Friday, the Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick told Sky News: “Those places that are in Tier 3 now have the opportunity to do the same as Liverpool did which is to do mass community testing. So we’re asking any local authority in those places to come to us, say if they’d like to be part of that and then we provide them not just with the tests but expertise and military support. If all of the country that’s in Tier 3 wanted to do it, then we would work on a priority basis.”

Cllr Mike Bell, Executive member for Adult Social Care & Health at North Somerset Council said; "We are planning to bring rapid lateral flow testing to North Somerset and are working through the logistics of setting up this new service and who will be offered the tests, including a potential location in Weston."

"The Government has said that local authorities that fall into Tier 3 will be offered support from NHS Test and Trace and the armed forces to deliver a six week rapid community testing programme. As we have been put into this tier we are waiting for more details. This is separate from the testing that has been announced to support visiting in care homes. We are also waiting for more details on how that will work. The main testing sites at Locking Road car park, Castlewood (Clevedon) and Bristol airport remain open."



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