Preston's winter Covid testing plans after closure of community sites

Preston City Council says that it has the capacity to reintroduce its community Covid testing facilities if required this winter.

Saturday, 18th September 2021, 3:10 am
Updated Saturday, 18th September 2021, 3:52 am

The authority closed the walk-in units at the end of last month. The mobile sites – which offered rapid-result lateral flow tests for residents without symptoms – had previously been found in locations including Preston Markets, the Fishergate Shopping Centre, the Flag Market, Issa Medical Centre and on Moor Park Avenue.

Free lateral flow kits for use at home were made widely available from most pharmacies across the summer and can also be sent to an individual’s home address – meaning the authority has seen a drop in demand for facilities conducting the precautionary tests in person. Home testing packs can also still be collected from the town hall during normal office hours on weekdays.

Meanwhile, PCR tests for people with symptoms must continue to be booked via the government website. Kits can be sent to a home address or people can visit a dedicated symptomatic testing centre.

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The then deputy leader of Preston City Council, Peter Moss, at one of Preston's asymptomatic Covid testing sites in summer 2020 (image: Neil Cross)

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The government recommends that those without symptoms take a lateral flow test twice a week.

With uncertainty over the level of Covid infection likely to be seen during the coming winter months, Preston City Council’s cabinet member for health and wellbeing Jennifer Mein says that residents should continue making use of tests.

“Regular Covid-19 testing remains a really important way to monitor and keep track of the virus at a time when we should not be complacent.

“With lateral flow testing kits being readily available to use at home, work or in school the community testing facilities have seen a decline in demand. We have the ability to reinstate them should they be required in the coming months, and we will continue to liaise with and take advice from Public Health England.

“Reassuringly, the testing rates in Preston remain high and we thank everyone for their continued efforts,” Cllr Mein said.

Preston was an early pioneer of asymptomatic testing in the summer of 2020 as it tried to bring rising rates back under control after the lifting of the first lockdown.

The rolling seven-day Covid case rate in Preston has risen every day this month for which figures have so far been published – most recently climbing by 9.5 percent in the week to 11th September to stand at 344 cases per 100,000 people, with a total of 497 positive cases being identified in the city during that period.

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