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Rapid coronavirus testing to find carriers

A coronavirus walk-in centre that is offering rapid testing to people without symptoms is helping to identify Leicester citizens who could be passing the virus to others without knowing.

The city council-run operation has been going for around two weeks now at the Fosse Neighbourhood Centre, and has processed 2,761 tests. An average of one test in 30 has come back positive.

This rapid testing programme has identified more than 90 people with the virus who may have inadvertently spread the virus to others in Leicester had they not been tested. Anyone that tests positive is then asked to take a further test (a more accurate PCR Test) and is then told to self-isolate for 10 days. Close contacts are traced and asked to isolate as well.

Leicester’s director of public health, Professor Ivan Browne said: “Even if you have no symptoms, you could still be spreading the virus – and a mild, or imperceptible, illness for you could be a life-threatening disease for someone else.

“That’s why we’re encouraging people with no symptoms to get tested at our walk-in centre. By coming forward for a test, you’ll be helping us to track down the virus and stop it from being passed on. And if you test positive, it’s really important that you self-isolate for 10 days, and that your close contacts self-isolate too. That’s the only way we’ll be able to break the chain of transmission.

The self-administered tests are done by swabbing the throat and nose, Image Credit – Unsplash

“Going out to get a test for coronavirus is a valid reason to leave your home under the rules of the new national lockdown, so please don’t hesitate about coming forward to be tested.”

The procedure, called a lateral flow test, is self-administered. With staff being on hand to offer guidance, a simple swab of the tonsils and the nose are all that is required. Once completed, results are expected to be returned within the hour.

The goal of this walk-in centre is to track down those spreading the virus without realising it, but it also provides reassurance to people that are fearful that they’ve been in close contact with the virus.

Before Christmas was a very popular time for people to get tested, as many were visiting family and friends they did not have regular contact with. A record 575 tests were processed on 23 December, well above the average daily total of 221 tests.

Further walk-in sites are planned for around Leicester so that the testing of asymptomatic people can be extended. An announcement of these sites is expected in the next few weeks.

If you want to get a lateral flow test now, the Fosse Neighbourhood Centre test site on Mantle Road is open from 9am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

To reiterate, these tests are intended for people without symptoms. If you are concerned that you have been in contact with the virus and want some peace of mind, go along to get yourself a test.

If you do have symptoms however, the advice is not to go for a lateral flow test. You should instead call 119 or visit www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test to make an appointment at one of the city’s main testing sites, which are open every day.

With the sharp rise of cases in Leicester which have shown a 7-day rate of 397.5 per 100,000, it is imperative that the people of Leicester stay vigilant—get tested if you are concerned. This will help to keep everybody safe.

 

By Sam Ellison