From next week people in Rotherham will be asked to get tested for COVID-19, whether they have symptoms or not.
The latest national data continued to show that infections in Rotherham are higher than most of the rest of the country.
The enhanced testing strategy was discussed today at the newly established Rotherham Local Outbreak Engagement Board.
Board members heard that Rotherham, together with other South Yorkshire local authorities has a higher level of infection than other parts of the country at the moment. As a result, Public Health England (PHE) and national leaders have given permission for enhanced testing across South Yorkshire aimed at accelerating the decline in new cases.
Rotherham Director of Public Health Teresa Roche said: “The number of people becoming infected with Coronavirus in Rotherham and across South Yorkshire is still too high. We are changing our testing strategy to include people with no symptoms of Coronavirus. We are working with PHE to increase access to test sites to make it easier for people in Rotherham to get tested.”
Dr Richard Jenkins, Chief Executive of The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said: “These additional measures are to try to bring down the rate of infections in the Borough as quickly as possible. This extra effort will help us to identify more people with the Coronavirus, who may not be showing symptoms. More testing will inevitably mean more positive cases, but it gives us a better chance of getting on top of the spread of the virus.”
More information about how to access tests for people with no symptoms will be published next week.
A testing site is being established at Herringthorpe Playing Fields.
Speaking after the meeting, Board chair and Leader of Rotherham Council, Cllr Chris Read said: “We all want to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but we cannot afford to take any chances. People must continue to keep two metres apart, wash their hands often, self-isolate if they have symptoms and get tested as soon as possible, if we are to prevent even more people from dying of this terrible virus. I’ll be getting one of the tests for people with no symptoms as soon as I can and would urge others to do the same.”
As part of ongoing work outbreak control work in Rotherham, one Rotherham business today took the decision to close part of its site for two weeks following an outbreak among its 35 workers.
Cllr Read added: “This is a laudable step from a company taking responsibility for the safety of its workforce and a credit to management. It is entirely possible that other workplaces will need to take similar steps over the coming days and weeks and all our agencies stand ready to support firms who might be facing an outbreak.”
The Council itself continues to take a cautious approach to reopening services such as libraries and leisure facilities, and the council’s main customer contact centre at Riverside House. Services not yet reopened will remain under review.
If you do have symptoms, please book an appointment online and use the drive-thru site. To make an appointment for the drive-thru test site visit www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119.