Community testing

UPDATE: Salford community testing trial (4 November 2020)

  • The Moonshot trial has been reviewed in light of increasing COVID-19 cases
  • New proposal to refocus community-wide testing in high-risk environments in Salford is being discussed

Background

In September, the UK government announced plans to rapidly increase mass community testing for COVID-19.

Salford is one of a number of organisations involved in the Moonshot programme testing different technologies and groups of people in different parts of the country.

The aim of the Salford trial is to look at providing regular testing to asymptomatic people using a quick and simple saliva test, avoiding the discomfort of the existing nose and throat swab test. The saliva sample is collected in a secure tube, sent to the laboratory for testing and results sent via text message, currently within 48 hours.

The initial intention of the trial was to test the concept of the saliva test with small groups of volunteers, before rolling it out in a staggered approach across parts of Salford working in partnership with our community and voluntary sector.

What we’ve done so far

Since September, Salford City Council and NHS partners have been working with volunteers providing saliva samples for weekly tests to understand views of the testing process, the length of time for results to return, the impact of the weekly test on people’s lives and making clear who might benefit most from this test as it develops.

Our volunteers have included groups of staff from Salford City Council and our local NHS workforce. Overall feedback has been positive, particularly around the saliva test deemed much less invasive than the nose and throat swab.

What happens next

Over the last few weeks, the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 has increased rapidly in Salford and nationwide. The national priority for testing resources is to test symptomatic people to fight the spread of the virus and contain the outbreaks. Testing must also be available as a priority for asymptomatic NHS staff.

Therefore, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) is asking us to continue trialling the saliva-based tests, but change the focus of the Salford pilot.

Instead of expanding into wider community testing, the new proposal – which we are reviewing with our local NHS partners and voluntary sector – is to focus on high-risk settings and individuals.

Next steps are in discussion between the DHSC with Salford City Council, but we are potentially aiming to test up to 1,000 people a day in targeted higher groups and settings to provide models for preventing and responding to surges.

This page was last updated on 4 November 2020

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