Rapid, regular testing for people without symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) is being made available in Rotherham.
Local authorities have been encouraged to target testing at people who are unable to work from home during the national lockdown.
Expansion of asymptomatic testing will identify more positive cases of COVID-19 and ensure those infected isolate, protecting those who cannot work from home and our vital services. This programme is crucial given that around 1 in 3 people have coronavirus without displaying any symptoms.
In Rotherham, Riverside House Café is the location for the roll out of lateral flow tests (LFTs) – a new rapid testing programme for asymptomatic frontline workers only.
The ground-floor café on the edge of the town centre was one of several Council locations to be risk assessed and was found to be the best place for this testing programme.
A one-way system will be in place to ensure that any staff who visit Riverside House for other reasons will avoid the café area. People attending for tests will use separate entry and exit doors. Testing at the site started in the week commencing January 4 and is by invitation and appointment only.
In addition to local authorities, NHS Test and Trace is working closely with other government departments to scale up workforce testing.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Lateral flow tests have already been hugely successful in finding positive cases quickly – and every positive case found is helping to stop the spread – so I encourage employers and workers to take this offer up. We must all do all we can to stop the spread of COVID, right now.”
Wickersley Partnership Trust has responded and has transformed its sports hall on Cranworth Road so that it can temporarily be used alongside a test centre at The Gainsborough Academy, to accommodate testing for around 1,100 staff and 500 children from across the Trust’s 13 schools.
The test centre was set up within 24 hours by local firm, Lawson Property Services, who built all of the booths and partitions – four stations at the head office in Rotherham and two at Gainsborough – to enable Wickersley Partnership Trust to start safely rolling out the 17,550 tests available.
Lateral flow tests give results within 30 minutes, allowing positive results to be quickly communicated to staff or parents of the pupil. Any person who tests positive will be told to self isolate in line with guidance given on the official Test and Trace app.
Melissa Jenkinson, teacher at Rawmarsh Ashwood Primary School commented: “It is a speedy process and I’m happy to have it done weekly with it being a very quick result. It means that I know I am then safe to go into school.”
Helen O’Brien, CEO of Wickersley Partnership Trust added: “At Wickersley Partnership Trust, we have a whole trust approach to mental health and well-being so pupils and teachers can thrive. We are committed to making sure staff and pupils are kept safe and protected from harm. Although it has been a massive undertaking to build a testing centre from the ground up, I am immensely proud to be in a position to use our resources to support our community and ensure staff and pupils are safe during this unprecedented time.”
Images: Wickersley Partnership Trust