Rapid testing starts in South Glos as Covid death toll passes 270
RAPID tests for Covid-19 are now available to anyone living or working in South Gloucestershire.
Critical workers – including nursery workers, funeral directors, staff in essential shops and bus and taxi drivers – and community volunteers are being offered weekly tests, as the programme to find people who have the virus but no symptoms is expanded.
It comes as the level of cases of coronavirus in the area stands at more than double a month previously – and the total number of residents who have died with the virus passes 270.
The council says the rapid testing programme is aimed at finding people who have coronavirus but no symptoms, so that they can isolate and prevent the virus spreading.
The test involves taking a sample of saliva to look for signs of Covid-19, returning results within an hour.
The first testing site was set up at Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre on January 18 and a second site in Kingswood was expected to be set up in the week beginning January 25.
They are separate from the testing sites in use for people who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19, including one in Mangotsfield and one at UWE's Frenchay campus.
Rapid tests can be booked online at beta.southglos.gov.uk/book-rapid-flow-test/.
South Gloucestershire director of public health, Sara Blackmore, said: “Anyone can spread the virus without having symptoms, which is why this new testing programme is an important new tool for us to identify people who may have the illness without knowing.
"With additional information we can take additional steps to help keep South Gloucestershire safe."
The most recent Office for National Statistics figures as the Voice went to print showed that during the week to January 12, 42 cases had been confirmed in Downend, with 19 in Mangotsfield, 34 in the ONS's Staple Hill North area and 43 in Staple Hill South and Kingswood North West.
In the ONS Frenchay and Great Stoke area there had been 62, there were 59 in Emersons Green and 47 in Pucklechurch and Westerleigh.
Case rates were more than double the level a month previously but were all below the national average of 537.9 per 100,000 people.
For South Gloucestershire as a whole, the number of confirmed cases in the week to January 12 was 1,144 – down from 1,321 a week previously but more than twice the total of 525 four weeks before.
In total since the start of the pandemic, 11,459 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in South Gloucestershire – around one person in every 25. The national rate is one in 19.
The number of South Gloucestershire residents who have died since the start of the pandemic had reached 273 by January 1 – one in 10 of the annual 2,825 deaths from all causes.
Some 54 deaths with coronavirus came in the last five weeks of the year.