KCC is pleased to now have military support to plan the targeted asymptomatic testing programme to be rolled out in areas of high prevalence in Kent in the coming weeks. This helps to identify those people who may have the virus without symptoms and who are therefore potentially spreading it unknowingly within their families and local communities.
The first asymptomatic testing sites are being identified in Swale and Thanet due to the current high prevalence in those areas, and further sites are being investigated in other districts. Lateral flow testing will help to reduce case numbers in those areas and get back to manageable levels of the virus, and place Kent in a better position to move out of Tier 3.
People without symptoms of COVID-19 will be invited to these sites, for a lateral flow test. This is a swab test, but unlike PCR where a laboratory and specialist equipment is needed, the result is given within 30 minutes. KCC will be launching a recruitment drive to run the testing sites, along with redeploying existing workforce where possible.
The Government has also already begun lateral flow testing in settings that are most vulnerable – for example care homes and NHS – across Kent.
This testing is being funded by central Government to support local councils to manage the second wave of the pandemic.
Andrew Scott-Clark, Director of Public Health said: “I need to highlight the scale of the challenge. For a county as big as Kent this is a huge undertaking. We need to have sites secured and made Covid-safe, resources recruited and trained to carry out the testing, and a robust logistical plan to ensure the storage, transportation and availability of equipment, testing kits and IT infrastructure at each site. We want you to understand the scope of the work we are doing and see first hand the progress we have made in a short space of time.
“KCC, District and Borough Council partners and other multi agency partners are simultaneously working on targeted asymptomatic testing, planning vaccination sites alongside the NHS, and preparing for Transition on 31st December. Our aim is to keep people as safe as we can throughout the pandemic, as well as keeping Kent moving and open for business as Transition approaches at the end of the year. I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been working so hard this past year, your efforts are really appreciated.”
The lateral flow testing is purely for people who don’t have symptoms of coronavirus. Please remember that there are plenty of tests available across the county if you have symptoms and I urge you to book a test here/and residents are urged to book a test at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
In most cases you will be able to get a test either the same day or the following day.
Testing numbers are not the only factor considered by Government when deciding tiers, and we continue to work closely with the NHS who are dealing with increasing pressures.
However, we are seeing community outbreaks across Kent and this is not just children at school or students at university, we are also seeing it in the working age population and our concern, as ever, is the transmission to the groups most at risk of severe symptoms – the elderly and those with long term medial conditions.
Rates across the county will only start to level off and reduce if people follow the restrictions and social distancing guidance (including wearing a mask in public and regular handwashing). We appreciate everyone is tired of those messages, but they are the only effective way to reduce transmission.”
For more information on Kent’s outbreak plans and the part you can play to help protect Kent, go to www.kent.gov.uk/protectkent