In a week where the national booking system for Covid tests has been overwhelmed by demand, it’s now even more important to reserve a slot only if you have symptoms of the virus, or you’ve been asked
That’s the message from Manchester’s public health chief, David Regan, who is leading the city’s response to the pandemic.
“Most people know the main signs of the virus are a high temperature; or a new, continuous cough; or a change to your sense of smell or taste,” he says.
“However, as we move into the time of year where colds are more common, it’s worth remembering that a ‘continuous cough’ means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours. And if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual.
“If you have one or more of the symptoms, please stay at home and book a test as soon as possible on www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by ringing 119. You may have to try a few times, but please keep trying.”
In Manchester there are two drive-through testing sites at Manchester Airport and the Etihad Campus, and five walk-through sites across the city. People can also get home test kits. These all have to be booked on the national system.
“This is where we are appealing to the people of Manchester to continue to look after one another,” says David. “People should only go to their GPs, A&E or call 111 if there is a medical need – they will not be able to get a test through these alternative routes.
“And, anyone who does not have symptoms is urged not to book a test as this could be taking it away from someone who really needs it.”
He is also keen to debunk a common misconception around contact tracing and to ask parents for their support at schools.
“If you are identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive, there is no point in booking a test,” she says. “You will still have to self-isolate for two weeks. This is because the virus can develop at different speeds in different people.
“Another big way of helping the whole city is to remain 2 metres apart outside schools when collecting children – so that parents and carers do not pass the virus to one another.”