Date Published: 22 June 2021
Rutland County Council is to redirect more resources into targeted community testing for COVID-19 from July.
Although the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 has remained low in Rutland in recent weeks, there has been a significant rise in infections nationally, driven by the new Delta variant.
One in three people who have COVID-19 never show any symptoms but that does not mean they are not infectious. Regular testing is therefore key to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Rutland County Council opened a dedicated COVID-19 testing centre at Oakham Enterprise Park in February, providing bookable slots for free ‘lateral flow device’ tests that give results within 30 minutes. Since opening, the site has carried out almost 3,000 tests. However, the number of people using the site has now fallen to just 50-60 a week as the same rapid tests have been made available to collect from local libraries and pharmacies, as well as to order online or by phone.
In order to make best use of resources and respond quickly to any local outbreaks, the Council is to wind-down testing at Oakham Enterprise Park and move to a more community-focused testing service, with more testing kits distributed direct to residents through local volunteer organisations and community groups. This is in addition to the current Community Collect scheme, which will continue to hand out free rapid tests at local libraries in Oakham, Uppingham, Ketton and Ryhall.
Rutland County Council’s social care services will begin issuing testing kits direct to vulnerable people and families who are most at risk of falling seriously ill from COVID-19. The county will also have access to a mobile COVID-19 testing unit, if needed.
Alongside the Community Collect scheme already running in the four libraries, where people can pick-up free kits to carry out self-tests for their households, Council staff plan to distribute the kits at more locations in local towns and villages. With the help of Rutland’s voluntary organisations and community groups, this will include getting in touch with people who do not yet take advantage of regular, free COVID tests as well as those who are most vulnerable and at risk from coronavirus infection.
“Regular testing is still crucial as one in three people have coronavirus without showing any symptoms. This is particularly important to remember as we see of the new, more transmissible Delta variant spreading rapidly in many places. We’ve achieved a good level of testing in Rutland so far. Because people are now used to ordering free rapid testing kits online, or collecting them from libraries and pharmacies to use at home, we’ve seen a drop in the number of residents visiting our static testing site at Oakham Enterprise Park. To make sure we can respond effectively to any spike in cases locally, now is the time to wind-down the testing centre and focus instead on getting out into the community to encourage testing.” Mike Sandys, Director for Public Health at Rutland County Council
A lateral flow device test is quick and simple and can identify people who have COVID-19 but do not have any symptoms. This is extremely important for those who might be spreading the virus without knowing it. You should do a rapid test twice a week (every three to four days) to check whether or not you have the virus. Those who test positive after taking a test will need to self-isolate. Those who test negative will still need to continue to follow COVID restrictions when out in public or with other people, and should continue to take regular tests.
Mike Sandys added:
“In addition to taking advantage of free rapid COVID testing, I’d again urge everyone to make sure they take-up the opportunity of vaccination when they are offered it – particularly people who are due for their second doses, as this offers maximum protection. Please also stay safe and take precautions in keep coronavirus cases down in our households, schools, workplaces and communities. Make sure to follow the guidance that remains in place around social distancing, the wearing of face masks, regular hand washing and the ventilation of indoor spaces.”
The final day of operation for Rutland’s COVID test centre at Oakham Enterprise Park will be Wednesday 30 June. For more information, visit: www.rutland.gov.uk/lfdtesting.