Access to testing is one of the key tools which we need to be able to rapidly and effectively respond to any outbreak of COVID-19 in our area.
The government's testing strategy includes:
- NHS swab testing which tests NHS staff and priority patients in NHS settings
- public swab testing using drive through and mobile testing units
- Antibody testing - a blood test to detect if people have had the virus. This is focused on NHS staff in the first instance then will be rolled out to wider groups
- Surveillance testing looking at the proportion of the population who have had the virus to inform decisions
We have rapid testing facilities to test very urgent critical keyworkers (or their household members). We also test patients for COVID-19 prior to their discharge from hospital if they are returning to a care home or prison setting.
Through the regional testing centre and mobile testing unit all residents should have access to a testing site within a 30-minute journey from their home. There is also the option of postal testing kits. All tests are booked via gov.uk/coronavirus or calling 119.
The static drive through testing facility at Creekmoor Park and Ride in Poole has capacity for 1,400 tests per day. There are also two mobile testing facilities which move between Weymouth, West Bay, Dorchester and Blandford each have capacity for 200-300 tests per day.
We have special arrangements to test staff and residents in care homes. There is also a 'whole care home' testing option for homes with residents over the age of 65 and those with dementia so staff and residents can be tested whether they have symptoms or not.
For our numbers of cases to remain low it is vital that people use the NHS Test and Trace service. If you have symptoms of coronavirus you must get tested immediately and speak to the NHS tracing team so they can follow up on contacts. If you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace team you must follow the advice to self-isolate for 14 days.
The results from the test and trace service is also key data to help build our understanding out the picture of COVID-19 infections locally and will allow us to rapidly identify any increase in cases in any particular place or context.