Changes are to be made this week to Coventry’s community testing centres to reflect a shift in the behaviour of residents and to allow businesses where they are based to fully reopen.
Community or LFT testing is recommended twice a week and required for many workplaces. However, with more and more people choosing to use home-testing kits, the number of testing centres for people without COVID-19 symptoms are changing.
During March, more than 6,000 tests were carried out each week at the seven centres across the city, but this has fallen to less than 1,300. This is a relatively small proportion of the approx. 21,000 lateral flow tests completed each week in Coventry as a whole.
The near 80% drop has been largely due to people finding it easier to carry out a test in other ways such as home testing or where they work.
Reflecting this change, the sites at the Hagard Community Centre in Willenhall, Xcel Centre in Canley and the AT7 Centre in Bell Green are set to close this Friday (18 June). That will be followed by the closure of the Moat House Centre on 23 June and the Alan Higgs Centre on 25 June.
The move will still leave three centres to serve the city; at: Market Way in the city centre; the Indian Community Centre in Foleshill; and a new site at the former Woodlands School site in Tile Hill which will open on 24 June.
Opening hours at the centres are changing slightly. They will now be open on Mondays and Fridays from 8.30am -5.30pm; and on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday from 10am - 4.00pm.
There will also be mobile units that will go out to different areas of the city and the option to set-up pop-up test sites in some areas is also being explored. In addition, the collect schemes will be widened to enable residents to pick up home test kits from a broader range of venues such as libraries and community centres.
Liz Gaulton, Director of Public Health for Coventry, said: “Whilst the static test centres have done a wonderful job in taking testing out to different areas of the city, more and more people are choosing to use a home test, so we have taken the decision to alter the number of community test sites across the city to reflect this change and provide us with a more flexible delivery model.
“We’d like to thank all the venues that have helped us with the testing programme. They have really made a difference discovering over 1,000 positive cases where people were unaware they had the virus.
“As lockdown eases, testing remains as important as ever and one of the key weapons in the fight against the spread of COVID. There are a range of testing options available to Coventry residents and a variety of places where you can pick up home testing kits across the City. Visit our website to find out more about what is available and help us continue to keep our communities safe. If you do not have any symptoms, it is recommended that you should be testing twice a week by rapid test.
“If you develop any symptoms, no matter how mild, you should isolate and book a test at a symptomatic (PCR) test centre via GOV.UK”.
The changes are designed to make it as easy as possible for everyone in Coventry to access twice weekly rapid testing. There are lots of options available, depending on your individual situation. NHS England’s site finder allows you to search for pharmacies and testing centres near you that offer collect. Over the coming weeks more and more venues will be signed up.
For people who can’t access tests through the other routes, you can also order a box of tests online through LFD direct or through 119, which will be delivered to your home.
People must continue to test, even after their vaccines, and even following a negative test result must continue to follow all guidelines, including social distancing and wearing face coverings.
To find out more about testing, coronavirus or local restrictions and support, visit www.coventry.gov.uk/coronavirus
The Council is trying to understand why some people are still choosing to get tested at community centres when there are now other options available. Please help by filling out this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/static_testing_sites
To find out how to take a Lateral Flow Test at home, watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8INKFvqQtGg