A walk-through coronavirus testing facility has been opened by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) at Short Street Car Park in Southend-on-Sea, as part of the Government’s UK-wide drive to improve the accessibility of coronavirus testing for communities.
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms, however mild, can get a free swab test that takes less than a minute. Tests should be booked or ordered as soon as symptoms begin online or by calling 119 and you can expect your result the next day.
The DHSC site is easily accessible without a car. Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout (including travelling to and from the testing centre).
Anyone attending an appointment at a walk-through testing will be provided with guidance on getting to and from the test site safely.
Testing at the new site has now started, with more appointments available each day. Testing is available for everyone, with additional support for vulnerable groups and people with disabilities.
The DHSC site is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history, including 73 drive-through sites, 26 walk-through sites, 236 mobile units, home testing and satellite kits and five laboratories.
Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.
Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book at test if they develop symptoms.
The council has worked with the DHSC and its partners to get the new site open and operating.
Cllr Trevor Harp, cabinet member for adult social care and health and chair of the local outbreak control oversight and engagement board, said: “As we continue to work to control the spread of Coronavirus, accurate data and easy to access testing for local people and local businesses is a key part of our plan and work.
“We are grateful to have the mobile testing unit at the airport, but it is not easy to access for those without a car, and so we are delighted that we have been able to work with the DHSC to get this central facility that is available to those who have found getting to the airport site difficult.
“If anyone has symptoms, then they should book a free test online or call 119. We want to remove barriers that may prevent someone getting tested, and the opening of this walk-through site will help. Getting a swab test takes less than a minute, is relatively pain free and results from test sites are received the next day.
“Having more testing facilities locally will encourage more people to get tested, and it therefore follows that this may lead to an increase in the reporting of positive COVID-19 cases. However residents and businesses should be reassured that we have the plans and measures in place through our local outbreak control plan to tackle and control any spread.”
Krishna Ramkhelawon, director of public health at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said: “It is important that we all remember that each and every one of us has a role to play in reducing the spread of the virus. It is still with us so it is really important that if you have symptoms, no matter how mild, you stay at home, isolate and book a free test. I am very pleased that we have been able to work with the DHSC to get this new testing site that will support local people and local businesses to attend an easy to reach and central walk-through testing facility.
“We must also continue to wash our hands properly and regularly, stay apart from those we don’t live with or who are not in our bubble, and wear face coverings in shops and supermarkets unless exempt.”
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