Salford is to lead the way in developing the national approach to community testing for coronavirus over coming weeks. The new community testing model will identify the best way to deliver a quick and simple saliva test, without any of the discomfort of the existing nose and throat swab test.
The development of the use of this new, rapid coronavirus test will begin in Salford with a phased roll out.
When fully implemented it will be available to people who live, work and study in the city and people of all ages and backgrounds will be able to test on a weekly basis by providing saliva into a container, which will then be sent for a simple laboratory process, known as a LAMP test.
Aimed at people without symptoms, community testing will help support work to stop the spread of the virus, by identifying positive cases early.
The tests will be offered to those without symptoms going about their normal business, with people who think they have coronavirus symptoms still accessing the existing national testing system and sites.
Salford City council believes that community testing is the best way to protect people and communities, to locate and disrupt the spread of the virus as soon as possible and even more so whilst a vaccine is being developed. The council firmly believes community testing should have continued throughout the pandemic and did not support the government when it was ended in early March.
Community testing will help people respond quickly to protect others if they have the virus. This will mean people can rapidly follow advice to stay at home if they test positive, or if the test is negative, they can continue to go about their daily life with confidence.
It allows people to take care of their own health as well as protecting those they have contact with, including their own family, friends and loved ones, whilst also helping to keep Salford’s economy open.
City Mayor of Salford Paul Dennett said: “I am pleased that Salford is working with the government to introduce community testing. We are clear that community testing is the way forward to find, isolate and contain the virus and to break its transmission within our city. It will also support us in taking a more targeted approach.
“I have been saying from the start of the pandemic that the government needs to entrust resources and control to local authorities to test, track and trace the spread of the virus. We understand our communities better at a local level.
“This work is both an opportunity to develop community testing locally and to support our residents to stay safe, whilst allowing our local economy and schools to stay open and our family and social lives to carry on.
“The best way to control the pandemic is at a local level whilst there is no vaccine available. Our overarching priority is to protect the people of Salford and the lives of vulnerable members of our community.”
With Salford being an early adopter of community testing it means that local people will be essential in providing invaluable feedback on the best way to administer testing, whether in community centres, or at supermarkets or tram stops. The aim is provide the easiest way for the community to take part so it becomes a normal part of day-to-day life as we live with and hopefully recover from COVID-19 in the near future.
Mayor Dennett continued: “Being at the forefront of the programme will also allow us to raise issues nationally that can discourage people from being tested.
"These include the fear around loss of pay and people being unable to isolate because of a lack of entitlement to statutory sick pay and an inability to make ends meet on such low rates of pay offered through government schemes. We are keen to shape community testing to meet the needs of local people.”