Nick Abbot 10pm - 1am
Surge testing deployed in Canterbury after surge in Indian variant
1 June 2021, 06:00
A two-week targeted and enhanced coronavirus testing programme for asymptomatic people will begin on Tuesday in two postcodes in the Canterbury area after the emergence of a number of cases of the Indian strain of Covid-19.
Kent's interim Director of Public Health, Dr Allison Duggal, said while the number of cases in the county was low, authorities were taking nothing for granted in moving to contain the variant, officially known as the B.1.617.2 strain.
Regardless of their vaccination status, people over 12 without Covid symptoms who are living, working or studying in all CT1 postcodes and the CT2 7 postcode are urged to undergo a PCR test at one of five mobile testing units set up in the area.
Those tested will not be expected to self-isolate while awaiting the outcome, the Kent County Council said in a statement.
Anyone with coronavirus symptoms - a high temperature, a new or continuous cough, a loss or change in taste or smell - should not take part in the enhanced testing initiative and should instead book a test by visiting the GOV.UK website, or by calling 119.
The new testing units are located at the New Dover Road Park and Ride, the Sturry Road Park and Ride, the Wincheap Park and Ride and at the Keynes College car park and the Darwin College car park of the University of Kent's
The testing centres will be open for walk-in appointments - meaning bookings will not be taken - from 9am to 7pm until June 15. Children aged from 13-15 must be accompanied by a parent or carer.
People will be notified of their results by NHS Test and Trace, and all positive results will be sent for further analysis and genome-sequencing to determine which strain of the virus is present.
"It's important to stress the number of cases of the B.1.617.2 variant of concern in the county are low - and that those identified to date have isolated appropriately, with their contacts traced and testing offered," Dr Duggal said.
"But, in line with several other local authorities in England who are carrying out enhanced testing, we don't want to take anything for granted. Working closely with Public Health England and Canterbury City Council, we are adopting a highly precautionary approach, continually assessing the situation and acting quickly to tackle outbreaks before they have a chance to spread.
"If you live in the relevant postcodes, I urge you to get tested at one of the mobile testing sites in Canterbury even if you have had one or two Covid vaccinations. If everyone plays their part by continuing to follow the public health advice in their local area, and getting vaccinated when invited, we can break chains of transmission and keep Kent safe."
People who do not live in the two Canterbury postcodes specified are also encouraged to book tests at one of Kent's symptom-free testing centres.