By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Kent households have been urged to take a coronavirus test two times a week in new guidance issued by Maidstone County Hall.
From today, Kent County Council’s (KCC) public health director Andrew Scott-Clark, who is due to retire this year, has recommended an increase to the number of Covid tests carried out by residents living in the county.
All people who live or work in Kent have been advised to take a symptomless swab test twice a week, particularly those who have to leave home for their job or shop for essentials.
This represents a significant change from previous guidance from KCC which stressed that everyone without symptoms should get tested every two weeks.
KCC’s cabinet member for public health, Cllr Clair Bell (Con), described the change as “important” as the UK lockdown slowly lifts.
Speaking to her nine Tory cabinet colleagues during a virtual meeting earlier today, she said: “Twice weekly testing will give more accurate results and it is important given the national restrictions are gradually being eased.”
Lifting of restrictions began last Monday when schools in England reopened to all pupils, care home visits were allowed and outdoor coffee and picnics permitted with a member of another household.
It forms part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, which has been divided into four stages over the next three months.
From March 29, people will be allowed to meet another household in private gardens, weddings attended by up to six people while outdoor sport reopens.
Non-essential shops, gyms and hairdressers can reopen their doors on April 12. Restaurants, pubs and hotels may open again from May 17.
In Kent, people can visit 24 asymptomatic test sites, two based in each district, however three will be stood down at the end of the month as demand drops.
They include Maidstone’s Kent Showground in Detling; Kemsley Community Centre in Ridham Avenue, Swale, and Dartford’s Farfield Leisure Centre.
It was also revealed that Covid testing centres in two of the districts will extend their opening hours to between 9am and 7pm from March 31.
This includes Sheerness East Working Mens’ Club and Institute in Swale and and Swanscombe Leisure Centre in Dartford.
In Maidstone, residents will still be able to travel to a town centre site at Sessions House, in Maidstone County Hall.
Meanwhile, the county’s remaining 21 testing hubs, with at least one based in each district, will remain in place until at least the end of June.
At today’s cabinet meeting, Cllr Bell said: “Testing remains an important tool in the fight against the virus.
“Around one in three people who have Covid-19 have no symptoms and will be spreading the virus without realising it.”
All sites across the county will be temporarily shut for the Easter break from April 2 to April 5, with the exception of Saturday 4.
People with symptoms, such as a high temperature, continuous cough or loss of smell or taste, should book via https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
Asymptomatic tests are available via https://kcc.healthit.org.uk/covbook/home
Interesting advice, well we certainly have great provision for testing in Ramsgate and an excellent team down there.
Any stats on PCN progress or age groups we’re up to in Ramsgate?
Taking the mick!
I’ve been going every two weeks – went this morning.
I think it’s a great idea to go twice a week.
But will people go? And what will they do if they get a positive result?
Why restrict it to twice a week ?
Why not go every day ? You clearly have too much time on your hands !
The NHS cannot afford this – and nor could it cope if everybody turned up. £Would you be willing to pay from your own pocket for two tests a week ?
Once everybody has received their inoculations and continue to take sensible precautions, the need for relentless testing “just in case” will be unnecessary.
Even if people are vaccinated, they can still carry the virus, and pass it on.
It’s really important, for the time being at least, that lots of people get tested so that the spread of the disease, and the development of mutations, is well understood.
As to cost: how much has lockdown cost the economy? If test and trace can help open things up, then it will be a price worth paying.
KCC would get a better response if they mailed tests to people’s homes. Many people simply don’t have time to go and get at a centre miles away.
I think a possible problem is that people wouldn’t necessarily report the results, especially if they were positive.
2 London areas area being saturation tested as South African variant discovered get real and take notice all these yobs racing motorbikes in Minnis til gone 1am need testing as no way any separation bundled together into cars too NOT FROM SAME FAMILY EITHER How is it these yobs do not get checked for supposedly being out for ESSENTIAL REASONS ONLY! Joke How are NHS STAFF EXPECTED TO WORK SHIFTS WITH SCUM LIKE THIS IN RANGE.
The whole process of booking a slot and registering for the test needs to be streamlined, especially if people are going 4 times as often.
Then when it comes to registering at the test centre, despite having an NHS login with all my personal details, and having already given those details when booking, I have to give them all again. And the booking reference number is different from the test number, so a long and complicated code has to be entered, usually by hand because my phone’s bar code scanner is playing up.
Come on, KCC. I’m perfectly happy to get myself tested, every day if it will help track the virus. But please can the process be streamlined and simplified?
Why would anyone have a test when they have no symptoms and feel perfectly healthy??