COVID-19: community testing for eligible workers to launch across Hampshire

Hampshire County Council is preparing to introduce rapid community testing for eligible residents without coronavirus symptoms from next week.

Subject to Government approval, 11 community testing sites will begin operation across the county during the week commencing 22 February. The appointment-only scheme, which will run for six weeks and is being delivered by the County Council in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Care and local district councils, is aimed at Hampshire residents who travel regularly outside their home for work and who are not covered by an existing workplace testing scheme.

Councillor Judith Grajewski, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Public Health, said: “The provision of fast, free coronavirus tests for people going out to work will help to drive down transmission rates and protect those most at risk from coronavirus. Around one in three people who are infected with COVID-19 have no symptoms and could be spreading the virus without knowing it. Broadening testing to identify those showing no symptoms will mean finding positive cases more quickly and breaking chains of transmission.

“The County Council’s public health and emergency planning teams are working closely with district partners to plan the roll-out, which incorporates stringent infection control procedures. The layout at each site is being carefully designed to ensure people can move around them safely to prevent any possible spread of the virus. Furthermore, social distancing will be maintained throughout the testing process and trained staff will be in attendance on site, to guide people through the testing process and ensure that tests are completed safely and effectively.”

The proposed test site locations for each district are:
•    Basingstoke & Deane – South Ham Library
•    East Hants – Alton Sports Centre
•    Eastleigh – The Point
•    Fareham – Fareham College
•    Gosport – Thorngate Hall Community Centre
•    Hart – Hart District Council Offices
•    Havant – Havant Library
•    New Forest – Totton Health & Leisure Centre
•    Rushmoor – Farnborough Leisure Centre
•    Test Valley – Picket Twenty Sports Ground
•    Winchester – Winchester Discovery Centre

Residents should check their district council websites for confirmation of exact ‘go live’ dates.

Councillor Grajewski added: “It’s important to note that asymptomatic testing works hand-in-hand with the existing testing services available across Hampshire for those who are experiencing symptoms, and anyone with a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste should book a test at or by calling 119.

“The introduction of rapid community testing for people without symptoms is a significant step forward in our fight against this virus, and I urge all those who are eligible for this scheme to come forward for regular testing and play their part in protecting our communities.”

How rapid asymptomatic testing works
•    Tests can be booked online 24 hours in advance through any district website or on the County Council website and appointments should take no more than 30 minutes. Anyone who cannot book online should contact their district council, which will be able to book a test on your behalf.
•    You will be asked not to eat anything for 30 minutes prior to your test.
•    You will take a lateral flow test, which involves a self-administered swab of the nose and throat, under the guidance of trained staff.
•    Results will be confirmed after leaving the testing site by text message sent direct to your mobile (or to a nominated mobile phone belonging to a family member or friend, if you do not have your own).
•    You will be invited to return for testing every three to five days throughout the six-week programme.
•    Anyone receiving a positive test result will need to follow self-isolation guidance, but will not need to book a follow-up test.

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16 February 2021