Willowbrook Hospice is the first in a series of targeted testing sites in St Helens Borough to use Covid-19 tests that give the results in 30 minutes.
Staff and volunteers who work at the hospice across all hospice buildings who do not have any symptoms of Covid-19 are to be tested weekly as a way to help reduce the risk of spreading the infection.
They are the first to use the new testing system, which has been used as part of the widespread testing programme in Liverpool, as plans progress for symptom free testing within and across St Helens Borough communities.
Chris Haywood, Clinical Director at Willowbrook Hospice, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this very important initiative. We believe it is imperative that our staff and volunteers take up the opportunity of a self-testing swab as it provides a quick and easy way to know if they do in fact have Covid-19 even though they may not have any symptoms. This will mean we can isolate infected people more quickly and ensure we keep our residents safe and our essential Hospice services running. This is a huge benefit to our patients, families, colleagues and those who they come in to contact with outside of work.”
The 30-minute tests, also called lateral flow tests, simply require someone to register their details using a mobile phone number or email address to send the results to, then a quick swab applied to the nose and mouth is all that is needed. There is no need to isolate after the test, if negative, and results are usually ready after 30 minutes.
If someone tests positive from the quick test must isolate at home and will then be sent an additional test to complete to confirm the Covid-19 case.
Anyone experiencing Covid-19 symptoms – a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell – should arrange for a traditional Covid-19 test to be carried out by booking online at www.gov.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119 and not use the 30 minute test.
Although the symptom free testing is initially small scale at the hospice there are plans to roll out more tests to both targeted areas such as workplaces or schools alongside wider general community testing.
Councillor Anthony Burns, Cabinet Member for Public Heath, Leisure, Libraries and Heritage, said: “There has been a real community effort to help get our rates to reduce in St Helens Borough which has been successful and helped us to move down to Tier 2 when national restrictions are lifted. But we cannot be complacent and need to continue to follow the guidance of washing hand regularly, wearing face masks and making space for others while also limiting our contacts with others to reduce the spread.
“The other way to tackling infection is by finding those who do not have any symptoms but still carry the virus. We are working hard to provide people who live or work in our borough with the chance to have these 30 minute tests through drop-in test centres just for those without symptoms. This will help to drive down rates even further there as it aims to find people who may have otherwise have been spreading Covid-19 to people they came into contact with, unaware they were infectious. As we roll this opportunity out, we will really do need your support as the more people we test the quicker we can isolate cases and reduce the spread so that we can all play our part in keeping cases low, keeping us in Tier 2 for Christmas.”
To find out more visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/letsgettested