The Armed Forces have been supporting Medway Council to launch and run Medway’s symptom-free testing centres.
Medway Council had been working on plans to launch symptom-free testing prior to the government’s initial tier announcement on 26 November that Medway would enter tier 3: Very High alert. The new type of testing has been led by Medway Council’s Director of Public Health, with kits supplied by NHS Test and Trace.
The military were drafted in to help run the testing centres and offer guidance to eligible critical workers and residents taking a swab test at targeted community testing centres in Chattenden, Rainham, Chatham and Rochester. They have also run pop-up test sites across Medway’s secondary schools, retail areas and at MEMS Priestfield Stadium.
With the military’s support, Medway became the first area in the south-east to start community testing for those without coronavirus symptoms.
The centres are now in their third week of being open and the military is standing down to hand over to civilian staff. Soldiers have been working alongside Medway Council employees, to train new symptom-free testing centre staff. These workers were recruited for Medway Council, with its recruitment partner Medway Commercial Group (MCG), who will fully take over the running of the sites after Christmas.
Thank you to our friends in the military
Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “Thank you to our friends in the military for all you have done to help launch Medway’s symptom-free testing centres and consequently help slow the spread of coronavirus locally. The Armed Forces have assisted thousands of Medway’s eligible critical workers and residents take a symptom-free test and their support has been warmly welcomed by the local community. Medway has a rich military history and their support has been instrumental in Medway’s fight against coronavirus. On behalf of Medway, thank you again and we wish you all a healthy Christmas and New Year with your loved ones.
“At a time when some families are struggling financially and out of work, I am pleased we have now been able to open up new job opportunities for our residents. Thank you to everyone who has applied so far and those who have already been trained by the military to take over the running of the symptom-free testing centres. You are providing a vital role in helping to identify those who unknowingly have the virus.”
'Humbled by the warm reception we have received'
Lieutenant Colonel James Cackett, Commanding Officer of the Medway Resilience Unit said: “Since testing started on 5 Dec, the soldiers of the Medway Resilience Unit have been pleased to serve the communities here in Medway in support of the wider testing programme and have conducted over 26,000 lateral flow tests. I am rightly proud of the work they have achieved over the past three weeks, and have been humbled by the warm reception we have received from the public. The smooth and successful transition to Medway Council delivery is complete and set to ensure the people of Medway remain protected.”
Play your part in Medway’s fight against coronavirus
James Williams, Medway Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “More than 26,000 of Medway’s critical workers and residents without symptoms have now been tested and 446 of them have been found to have coronavirus. Your efforts to take the quick swab test is helping to slow the spread of the virus locally. We know that breaking the chain of infection by finding people who do not know they are infected will help Medway residents to get back to doing the things they love sooner.
“We are opening up symptom-free testing to more of Medway’s critical workers and residents. If you’re eligible to take a symptom-free test you will be contacted directly by Medway Council by letter or leaflet to your home, through your employer or by text message from ‘NHSnoreply’. Please do take advantage of the opportunity you have been given to play your part in Medway’s fight against coronavirus.”