Published: Monday, 7th December 2020

Medway’s critical workers and residents living in areas with high infection rates can now book a symptom-free coronavirus test.

We have launched this new type of testing as part of Medway's fight against COVID-19, and it is being led by the Director of Public Health, with kits supplied by NHS Test and Trace. We are delivering three new targeted community testing centres in partnership with the military - in Chattenden, Rainham and Chatham.
 
The coronavirus rate of infection continues to increase in Medway, with more people tragically catching and dying of the deadly virus.

You could have and spread the virus without knowing

This new type of test, which follows in the footsteps of a successful broader mass testing pilot run by Liverpool City Council, will help identify those who unknowingly have the virus. The asymptomatic tests will help provide a more accurate picture of cases in Medway and will help prevent people from spreading it to their loved ones and people they work with. 
 
As part of Medway’s asymptomatic testing pilot, eligible critical workers and residents have been directly contacted either through their employer, by letter or text message with details on how to book a test. This includes fire, police, prison, social care and education staff who live or work in Medway, as well as residents living in areas across Medway which currently have a high number of cases. 

Results within one hour

This new type of testing is much speedier than current tests with results delivered within an hour of the test taking place. Only those who are eligible and have booked can access the new symptom-free testing centres and are able to carry out the swab themselves – the results will be sent when they return home. Military personnel will be on site to assist with the new community testing centres. 

The council will review demand for the pilot and will continue to monitor closely the number of cases locally with a view of providing additional targeted testing in the community in due course.   

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “We have been working hard on plans to offer Medway’s critical workers, as well as residents living in areas where coronavirus is quickly spreading, a symptom-free test, and I am pleased our new community testing centres are up and running. Even if you do not have any symptoms of coronavirus you can be infected and spread the virus to your loved ones and people you work with. Symptom-free testing helps us identify people who unknowingly have the virus in Medway and will consequently help us save lives. I would also encourage people who have symptoms of coronavirus to continue booking a test in the usual way. 

“Thank you to the military for their support in making the delivery of the new community testing centres possible. Medway has a long-standing friendship and history with the armed forces and delivering symptom-free testing together shows our strengthening partnership. We must all act now and play our part to protect our loved ones and others around us from this deadly disease.”

Health Minister Lord Bethell said: “We’ve already come so far since first setting up a national testing programme at an unprecedented pace to help counter COVID-19, but we continue to strive to go further, faster.

“Innovations such as lateral flow testing hold the key to the next phase of our ambition to see mass, rapid testing available to people across the country. 

“I’m delighted that Medway Council and the military are working with us to pilot the latest technology in Medway, and I look forward to seeing the fruits of their labour, both in helping target the virus locally, and helping find ways to roll this technology out further soon.”
    
Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against COVID-19 with over 43 million tests processed so far. 

“The work of Medway Council and the military in Medway will be essential in helping us explore the benefits of new technology in lateral flow testing.  

“This pilot is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace – mass testing - which will allow us to test even more people, even more quickly.”

Dr Alison Barnett, Regional Director for Public Health England South East and NHS Regional Director of Public Health, said: “We know that many people who are infected with Covid-19 do not have typical or any symptoms at all. This means that someone could be highly infectious without being aware of it, and therefore unable to self-isolate to help stop the chain of transmission.

“The testing of asymptomatic critical workers and some residents will help to break the chain of transmission by preventing spread by people without symptoms and enable vital services to keep running this winter as well as drive down the levels of infection in Medway.”

Joint Military Command South East is pleased to announce that the Armed Forces, as part of our contribution to the UK’s fight against Covid-19, will be supporting Medway Council in the delivery of community testing at several sites across the Medway Towns: “175 troops have been specifically trained to manage these sites and conduct the lateral flow testing; they are now in place and we look forward to aiding your local authority and communities in helping to reduce the infection rate throughout the Medway Towns.”

Medway is in tier 3

Medway Council had been working on plans to pilot symptom-free testing prior to the government announcing Medway moving into Tier 3: High level alert from Wednesday, 2 December. The government has since announced its support for tier 3 areas to have mass population testing and Medway Council is now in discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care. 

For details on tier 3 restrictions, visit – gov.uk/coronavirus

Act now – stop the spread and book your free test

If you do not have symptoms: Eligible critical workers and residents have been directly contacted by Medway Council. Only people who have been contacted, and those they live with, can book a symptom-free test using the details they have been sent. 

If you have symptoms: Symptomatic testing continues in Medway. If you have a coronavirus symptom, self-isolate and book a test as soon as possible.
The main symptoms of coronavirus are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you've noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.
     
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