COVID mass testing – your questions answered

COVID mass testing – your questions answered

UPDATED: Sunday 8 November 2020

Everyone living or working in Liverpool is to be offered COVID-19 testing, whether they have symptoms or not, in the first pilot of whole city testing in England.

Liverpool is currently in the highest tier of COVID-19 restrictions because its case numbers are among the highest in the country.

The pilot will help to inform a blueprint for how mass testing can be achieved and how fast and reliable COVID-19 testing can be delivered at scale.  

Whole city testing aims to protect those at highest risk and find asymptomatic cases to help prevent and reduce transmission in the community, helping the city get back to normal as soon as possible.

Here we answer some of the questions you may have…we will add more information as we get it, so please check back regularly.

Why was Liverpool chosen?

Liverpool City Council invited the Department of Health to work with it on a mass testing pilot due to the high number of cases of coronavirus in the city.

The city has been under tier 3 restrictions since 14 October and case numbers are still among the highest in England.

We hope by providing mass testing we can protect those at highest risk, to find positive cases to help prevent and reduce transmission in the community.

Testing a large proportion means more positive cases can be identified and asked to self-isolate, which can help drive down the rate of infection locally.

The initiative is being led by Liverpool City Council, with central government supporting operationally.

Where will the testing sites be?

From Monday 9 November, a total of 17 centres are now open, from 7am – 7pm.

People are asked to book testing slots at – or using the NHS Covid-19 App. They are asked not to just walk up to a test centre.

The centres are:

· Liverpool FC Anfield Stadium, L4 0TH

· Merseyside Caribbean Centre, Amberley Street, Toxteth, L8 1YJ

· Lifestyles Walton, Walton Hall Park, L4 9XP

· Lifestyles Austin Rawlinson, Conleach Road, Speke, L24 0TR

· Bridge Community Centre, Daneville Road, L4 9RG

· St Stephen’s Church Hall, Belle Vale Rd, L25 2PQ

· Aintree Baptist Church, Longmoor Lane, L9 0EH

· Croxteth Sports Centre, Altcross Road, L11 0BS

· St Johns Market, Liverpool city centre

· University of Liverpool gym, Bedford Street North, L69 7ZN

· Lifestyles Alsop Fitness Centre, 1 Walton Village, L4 6RW

· Exhibition Centre Liverpool, Kings Dock, L3 4FP

· Lifestyles Ellergreen, Ellergreen Road, L11 2XY

· Lifestyles Park Road, Steble Street, L8 6QH

· Liverpool Tennis Centre, Wellington Road, L15 4LE

· Lifestyles Garston, Long Lane, L19 6PE

· IM Marsh, Barkhill Road, Aigburth, L17 6BD

These centres should only be attended by people who are not displaying symptoms.

People without symptoms will also be offered drive-through appointments at other mobile testing units in the city, to maximise capacity. As everyone is in a car they are protected from each other.

Anyone displaying coronavirus symptoms must book a test via and not turn up to one of the mass testing centres.

How will I be able to book/get a test?

Testing slots can also be booked via – or using the NHS Covid-19 App. People are advised there may be socially-distanced queues at these locations.

There will be a variety of ways to book a test, including online or by invitation from the local authority. Testing will be carried out in new and existing test sites, using home kits, in hospitals and care home settings, and schools, universities and workplaces. This will be set out in due course. Participants are strongly advised to book a test and not just walk up. You also need a mobile phone number available to you on request, for registration.

Who will be eligible?

We will be targeting people who would benefit from regular testing such as key workers, health and social care staff, school staff and pupils.

However tests are available to anyone who lives or works in Liverpool, regardless of their age. Children under 18 will need parental consent.

Are you testing schoolchildren?

Parents of pupils aged 11-18 are being sent letters asking if they are willing to consent to their child receiving a test.

The council is working with partners including public health, the school nursing service to facilitate the voluntary programme within schools.

As with the mass testing programme, the military will be providing logistical support in setting up and running the tests.

If parents do not wish their child to have a test, that is fine.

Is testing mandatory?

Absolutely not. We are hoping that many people will recognise the benefits of testing in reducing the transmission rate so that some of the restrictions on our way of life are lifted by Christmas.

Why should I take part?

Mass testing will provide a more accurate picture of the virus in Liverpool and could eventually help us to open up mass testing to the whole country.

Identifying people who have Covid-19 before they develop symptoms will help reduce the number of people they spread it to, reducing the transmission rate. The more we reduce the transmission rate, the quicker we will be able to get closer to a more normal way of life and do the things we all enjoy, such as meeting family and friends.

What are the tests?

All residents and workers who consent will be tested using combination of existing PCR swab tests, as well as new more advanced ‘lateral flow’ tests which can rapidly turn around results within an hour without the need for a lab, as well as technology due to be deployed in Liverpool University Hospital Trust.

The pilot and contact tracing will be locally led with testing carried out at new and existing testing sites as well as through the home testing channel.

How quickly will people get their results?

The lateral flow device tests take up to an hour and are point of care tests, so don’t need to go to a lab to be processed. However results may take longer to be sent to people as they need to be registered on the system, so could take a few hours to be sent after you leave the test centre.

You can expect to receive your result from a standard PCR swab test within days.

How accurate is the new lateral flow test?

The tests have been validated by the Department of Health as being very accurate with high sensitivity and specificity levels. 

Quality assurance work carried out so far has shown the tests to be as effective in identifying asymptomatic positive cases as symptomatic positive cases.

We are not using LAMP tests as part of the mass-testing pilot.

What happens if I test positive?

Positive results from tests will be collected by NHS Test and Trace and published as part of the daily case numbers, including how many positive cases are detected with this new method of testing. Results will be received from NHS Test and Trace via text and email.

Anyone who tests positive, using either a lateral flow test or an existing swab test, must self-isolate along with their household immediately.  Those who test negative will need to continue to follow all national guidance.

Can I get financial help if I test positive?

Eligible individuals who test positive through the pilot will be entitled to the £500 Test and Trace Support Payment in the same way as a regular swab test through NHS Test and Trace. Please note the government has laid down eligibility criteria and they are set out here, along with details of how to apply:

If my result is negative, can I go and visit my mum in her care home? Or meet up with my friends?

Not at the moment because of Tier 3 restrictions and the national lockdown beginning on 5 November.  This is about trying to get the infection rate down so that when lockdown hopefully ends on 2 December we could be subject to fewer restrictions, which could include meeting up with friends and visiting care homes.

How will this work with the app?

Positive results from tests will be collected by NHS Test and Trace, and published as part of the daily case numbers, including how many positive cases are detected with this new method of testing.

NHS Covid-19 app users should input their results into the app. 

How long will the pilot last?

This has not yet been decided but it will run for approximately two weeks but this may be extended.

Is that long enough to make a difference?

The scale of the offer being made in Liverpool will help to demonstrate that massive asymptomatic testing can help identify far more cases and break the transmission of coronavirus.

The combination of massive access to new, fast, testing also helps us make progress toward being able to return to less onerous restrictions once we do reduce transmission.

Will this be rolled out to other areas of the city region, or the rest of the country?

An evaluation of testing the whole of Liverpool will inform the potential rollout of whole town or city testing to other areas, as part of the government’s commitment to make mass testing available.

Why is the army involved?

We do not have the staff numbers needed to run the mass testing programme, so we have invited the army to support us with setting up and running the programme and to provide logistical support

How many tests is ‘regular’ tests / how many will people be offered?

All residents and workers will be offered regular/repeat testing, however the exact details are still being developed. Ideally we would like everyone to be tested twice.

Could you run out of tests?

No. We have capacity to issue thousands of Lateral Flow tests and PCR tests each day.

I have been offered a test which I have to pay for – is this one of yours?

All the Covid 19 tests we are doing as part of the pilot scheme are free. There is no need for people to use paid for tests as they will be unvalidated and are not part of the NHS Test and Trace system.

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