Residents living in households containing a child attending schools or staff member will be able to collect rapid coronavirus tests to use at home, known as lateral flow tests, from 13 community testing venues.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council applied to be an early adopter in the new testing programme, and residents are being encouraged to use the new test and collect offer at community testing venues. After having a test done on site with a trained member of staff to explain how to do the test, residents can then collect a box of 7 test kits to complete twice-weekly at home. Residents will not need to book to collect test kits after this but can still get a test at a community testing venue or a pharmacy offering tests.

This comes as whole families and households with primary school, secondary school and college age children, including childcare and support bubbles, are now able to test themselves twice every week from home. The free tests aim to enable residents to quickly test themselves at home before going to school, work or meeting friends or relatives and check that they do not have Covid. By quickly identifying COVID-19 cases and stopping chains of transmission residents can support local efforts to drive infection rates down and allow a return to normal activity.

As laid out in the roadmap, secondary school and college students are now being encouraged to take a Covid test twice a week. Primary school children will not be regularly tested due to low levels of transmission between younger aged children but parents are still advised to self-isolate with their child and seek testing through the government portal if they have symptoms.

Rapid testing detects cases quickly – in less than 30 minutes – meaning people can test at home or at a community test site and isolate immediately if they have a positive test result. This can be the difference between children being able to safely stay in school, or a class being sent home due to an outbreak. It could also be the difference between a workplace having to close for a period, or being able to stay open and running.

Leader of the city council, Abi Brown said: “Launching Community Collect is just another example of how we want to make sure testing is accessible for all. A third of individuals with coronavirus show no symptoms and are potentially spreading it without knowing. By completing regular Covid testing we can quickly identify positive cases and prevent outbreaks in schools and colleges, helping to keep education safe for both staff and pupils.

“If you are eligible for Community Collect, please visit one of our community venues. Take a test first under the supervision of one of the testing assistants to make sure you are doing it correctly, and then you can do on an ongoing basis in the comfort of your own home. Protect yourself and your family.”

Dr Paul Edmondson-Jones, director of adult social care, health integration and wellbeing, said: “Testing will continue to be a vital part of our response to coronavirus. As restrictions cautiously ease and we move towards more social mixing at the end of March, we need to be sure that each COVID-19 case is found as quickly and as easily as possible. Although cases and are positivity rate are declining, everyone needs to play their part to keep the virus under control while keeping children and young people in school.”

Further community testing sites offering Community Collect will go live from Monday, April 1.

Residents can also collect from Regional Test Sites (Stoke City FC, Port Vale Synectics Solutions and Fenton Manor) and Local Test Sites (LTS), operated by NHS Test and Trace. These three main sites now only offer PCR tests between 7am – 1pm. If residents need a PCR test after 1pm due to developing coronavirus symptoms then you can still order a PCR test to do at home or book an appointment for the following day.

Direct to Home is also available for thosewho cannot collect lateral flow self-test kits in person. This is again for anybody who has sustained contact with school children, including households of staff or a pupil, childcare or support bubbles and those in related occupations such as school bus drivers and taxi drivers. People can order a home test kit at www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests

Community test sites offering Community Collect from Monday (March 22):

·         Dimensions Leisure Centre

·         Wallace Sports and Education Centre

·         Northwood Stadium

·         New Horizons Sports and Leisure

·         Weston Coyney Village Hall

·         Florence Sports and Social Club

·         Christ Church Tunstall

·         Penkhull Village Hall

·         Hazel Trees Duke Street

·         Sneyd Community Hub

·         Blurton Community Hub

·         Bentilee Neighbourhood Centre

·         City Central Mosque 

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