Positive cases from testing in the wider community (also known as pillar 2) are now available at local authority level through the Public Health England daily dashboard, following rigorous quality control of historic data and the integration of data from national Lighthouse Labs that process these tests.
It is important to note that the additional data relates to individuals who tested positive from the end of March onwards. These are not new cases.
Local authorities have been receiving these testing numbers and overall results for pillar 2 testing for a number of weeks and use it alongside pillar 1 results (tests carried out by NHS and PHE labs) to monitor activity, identify trends and coordinate testing capacity across Kent and Medway to ensure that anyone who needs a test, can access one. So while the pillar 2 testing is now publicly reported, this does not change the approach in Kent and Medway as these figures have always been known to us.
The public should be reassured that the levels of testing across Kent have also been ramped up and we would expect to see a rise in the number of cumulative confirmed cases. We have increased our testing capacity so that we are able to identify and confirm cases in our community and support the NHS Test and Trace programme. We appeal to residents to follow the guidance should they be contacted by NHS trace. This will all help us control the spread of the virus.
Drive-through coronavirus testing facilities currently operate in Ashford and Ebbsfleet, plus mobile testing units deployed more locally around the county including Dover, Canterbury, Folkestone, Maidstone, Medway and Sittingbourne. We also have pop up local testing sites in Medway. Mobile testing units are also able to be deployed rapidly. They can be quickly set up at care homes or other facilities should the need arise.
The NHS in the region have also been working hard making sure that there is sufficient testing resources for their patients and staff to get the testing that they need to support their safety and treatment.
The Government has also set up a home-testing service. This is supported by Amazon’s logistics network and other commercial partners. Home test kits can be delivered to someone’s door so they can test themselves and their family without leaving the house.
The message to residents remains clear – to follow national guidance on social distancing, use thorough and regular handwashing, and follow advice if contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system.
Businesses across the county will also be encouraged to continue following national Government guidelines around safe social distancing measures and to support their staff if they are contacted by the NHS and advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
For more information on the NHS Test and Trace service and Kent and Medway Outbreak Management plans go to www.kent.gov.uk/kentprotect You can find the figures for pillar 1 and 2 testing at https://coronavirus.data.gov.uk/