South Gloucestershire's first coronavirus community testing centre to open
THE first community coronavirus testing centre in South Gloucestershire is set to open tomorrow. The drive-through facility will be at the University of the West of England's Frenchay campus, in the car park by the university's business school.
The drive-through facility will be at the University of the West of England's Frenchay campus, in the car park by the university's business school.
It is a stone's throw from UWE's exhibition centre, which was transformed into a Nightingale hospital to treat COVID-19 patients earlier this year but has so far not been used.
The unit, which will be open six days per week, is the first community testing facility to open in South Gloucestershire and will serve both residents and students, who will have a self-contained "walk-through service".
It is being managed by finance and professional services company Deloitte on behalf of the Department for Health and Social Care.
The council requested it "because people in South Gloucestershire were having to travel quite lengthy distances to be tested".
Tests are by appointment only, for people with coronavirus symptoms. Bookings are made via the nhs.uk/coronavirus website, or by calling 119.
Signs directing people to the centre, which is accessed via the campus North Entrance, off the A4174, will be in place from the M32 and Abbeywood roundabouts.
Announcing the opening of the centre, South Gloucestershire Council said: "You must not turn up at the site if you have not booked an appointment. Anyone who turns up without an appointment will be turned away.
"The council requested the additional capacity for South Gloucestershire as part of its ongoing work with partners to monitor and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the district.
"The request was made to add local testing capacity and not in response to weekly case numbers, which as anticipated continue to fluctuate."
The council say the facility is "self-contained", which means people arriving by car for tests will not need to mix with students using the centre on foot.
The council said: "Clear signage will be installed to direct those with appointments where and how to use the service and drivers arriving for tests will not need to leave their cars for any reason.
"No one arriving for a test will need to go into university buildings.
"Students will be required to wear face masks on the way to and from the testing centre.
"Availability of appointments for tests depends on the capacity of testing laboratories, which is outside of the council’s control. People booking appointments will be directed to their nearest available testing facility at the time they book on the portal."
Council cabinet member for public health Ben Stokes and director of public health Sara Blackmore issued a joint statement, which said: “Our public health team is continuing to work closely with our partners in the local NHS and the national Test and Trace system to ensure our local outbreak management plan means that where cases of COVID-19 arise that we can work across the system to ensure they are contained.
“We are pleased to have additional testing facilities locally because people in South Gloucestershire were having to travel quite lengthy distances to be tested. We hope this new capacity will increase the number test appointments available generally and will help reduce how far people have to travel and contributes to helping stop the spread of the virus.
“We also want to thank everyone for their continued efforts to do the right thing, by observing social distancing, washing their hands and wearing a mask where advised to do so to help us all in working together to help stop the spread of COVID-19”
UWE vice-chancellor Professor Steve West said: “The securely-managed centre will reduce journey times for members of the public and offer an easily accessible location for testing for students should they develop Covid-19 symptoms.
“As the centre is completely segregated, members of the public will not need to access any university buildings and students will not be required to leave our Covid-secure campus to receive their free swab test."
When and how to get a coronavirus test
Government guidance states that only people who have one of the three main symptoms of COVID-19 should book a test.
a high temperature
a new, continuous cough
a loss or change of sense of smell or taste
People who have symptoms should self-isolate immediately and only leave home to have a booked test.
The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat.
Testing kits to use at home can also be sent out where someone is unable to attend a testing centre.
If attending a testing centre is not convenient or appropriate, tests can be ordered to be sent to your home so individuals can test themselves and their family without leaving the house.
Anyone who tests positive will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus.