Increase in community Covid-19 testing to focus on secondary school age children

Increase in community Covid-19 testing to focus on secondary school age children

COVID-19 testing for the community, with a particular focus on secondary school age children, is being increased as cases continue to rise in parts of Essex, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock.

Young people of secondary school age, particularly those in years 11, 12 and 13, and their families, who do NOT have symptoms are now being urged to ‘Test now for Christmas, test again before the return to school’.

Following an announcement from the Government last week, Essex County Council, Southend-on-Sea and Thurrock Councils are putting into action plans, collaboratively worked up with the Department for Health and Social Care DHSC, for increased community testing in specific locations across the county including for those with no symptoms.

The additional testing capacity outlined below will be available to the whole community, but young people of secondary school age and their families are strongly encouraged to get tested before Christmas, and then prior to their return to school in January as part of this increase in community testing.

  • Hamlet Court Road car park. A new walk-though mobile testing unit site opened on Saturday 12 December, and will be open seven days a week. There is no need to book for this site, it is open from 9:00-15:00 and is open to people who are symptomatic/asymptomatic.
  • Southend Airport, Long Stay Car Park 3, Southend-on-Sea, SS2 6YE – this mobile testing unit is now open seven days per week (up from two days a week). Please book through the national system (https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test)
  • Short Street local testing site remains open seven days a week. This is available for both walk-through and appointments booked through the national system (https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test)

 

By visiting www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test you will be given the option of either attending a local testing site or a postal test kit can be sent to your home for you to do yourself.

The opportunity to access a test is open to all family members of children of secondary school age. The exception is if you have had a positive test in the last 12 weeks, as it may be incorrectly positive.

Children of secondary school age are also urged to get a second test before the New Year, around 4-7 days before return to school, to ensure that anyone who may be infectious does not return to school and potentially start an outbreak.

Cllr Ian Gilbert, leader of the council, said: “With rates rising across Southend-on-Sea, our message to secondary school age pupils is test now for Christmas, and then please test again before the return to school.

“As a community we need to identify as many people as possible to stop the spread and so we welcome this additional capacity from the Government, which is increasing the days available at the mobile testing units from four up to fourteen.

“Community testing is helpful to identify where the disease is spreading and also helps to identify asymptomatic people who may be carrying and spreading the disease unknowingly.

“This is particularly important now as we approach the festive season and with families considering if and who to make Christmas bubbles with. We are also aware that rates in young people have been increasing particularly quickly and this will help identify further where this exists.

“I would therefore urge you to have your secondary school age child tested for coronavirus.

“Your help and support is more important than ever at this crucial time in the fight against coronavirus.”

Jamie Langstone
JLangstone@savs-southend.co.uk