Three rapid COVID-19 test centres have opened this week, as part of Salford City Council’s strategy to identify more positive cases and stop the spread of the virus.
Frontline and key workers in Salford – those who cannot work from home and who have no symptoms of COVID-19 - are encouraged to be tested twice a week using rapid lateral flow tests. These tests are a new kind of technology with results available usually within an hour so can be used to test a higher number of people without COVID-19 symptoms. Anyone who tests positive using a rapid lateral flow test will then be advised to self-isolate and book a follow-up lab-based test, which will confirm the result.
Eccles Old Town Hall, Beesley Green Community Centre and Wardley Community Centre are the city’s first rapid testing sites to open, with additional sites planned across Salford opening over the next few weeks. Appointments must be booked online.
To help launch the roll-out of rapid targeted testing, Salford is one of a number of localities to get support from military personnel, helping get the testing sites up and running and training local staff how to do the tests.
City Mayor Paul Dennett said: “We are at critical point in time as we fight the COVID-19 pandemic in Salford. We have a rising number of COVID-19 infections and a new strain of the virus, which we know is more transmissible. Together with the mass roll out of the vaccine, testing is a really important part of the jigsaw to getting our way out of this pandemic. This is targeted testing at scale, so we're intentionally targeting people who are most at risk of exposure to the virus because they still need to go out to work such as teachers, early year practitioners, care workers visiting people in their homes, taxi drivers, and essential retail.
"We're encouraging them to book rapid COVID-19 tests twice a week so they can continue going about their daily lives in the knowledge they are taking every precaution to keep themselves and the people they are in contact with safe.
Dr Muna Abdel Aziz, Director of Public Health for Salford, said: “One in three people who test positive for coronavirus have no symptoms at all and can therefore spread it unknowingly; including to people who are more vulnerable and therefore at high risk of becoming seriously ill.
“That is why testing is so important. Although it is not mandatory, by finding out if you are the one in three and taking the right action to self-isolate, you will be protecting your colleagues and your family members, and you will also be helping the people of Salford go about their daily lives with a reduced risk of catching COVID-19. You will be helping to stop the spread of the virus, save lives and play your part in getting the city of Salford and our lives back to normal.”
Only people who have to leave home to go to work and without COVID-19 symptoms should book a rapid test. Anyone with symptoms that may be the coronavirus must self-isolate and book the lab-based test via the GOV.UK website, or by calling 119 as usual.