More than 50,000 COVID-19 tests have been carried out by Cheshire West and Chester Council since it launched its no-symptoms testing service 12 months ago.
The Council’s first testing centre opened at Stanney Oaks Leisure Centre, in Ellesmere Port, in December 2020.
It now has a site at The Dingle Centre, in Winsford, as well as two mobile testing units that tour the borough, focusing on areas of greatest need.
All facilities offer on-site Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing as well as kits for people to test at home, with many of the borough’s libraries also offering home test kits.
During the past year, the Council’s asymptomatic testing service has identified more than 600 positive cases which may have otherwise gone undetected, enabling people to self-isolate and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said, “Our teams set up this service from scratch last December and we have seen it go from strength to strength.
“The real key to its success has been its flexibility and responsiveness to suit the ever-changing COVID-19 picture – particularly the introduction of the two mobile units.
“We know that around one in three people with COVID-19 do not have any symptoms, so can spread the disease without knowing – no-symptoms testing can help find those cases and help stop the spread.
“I want to thank the teams for their hard work running this service and the members of the public who have embraced it to play their part in the fight against Coronavirus and look after each other.”
The Council recommends that residents test twice a week if they do not have symptoms of the virus, also before visiting someone more at risk of serious illness or before mixing in a crowded indoor space.
From Tuesday, 14 December, daily LFD testing has also been introduced for close contacts of any positive case of COVID-19 who have had two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at least 14 days ago or who are under 18.
Ian Ashworth, Director of Public Health at the Council, said, “Many people use our service to give themselves peace of mind, particularly if they are meeting friends or family, looking after someone else or cannot work from home.
“Testing is a really important part of our defences against this virus, alongside vaccination, which we know has made a huge difference. These precautions are even more important, now we have confirmed cases of the new variant, Omicron, in the UK.
“I would urge everyone to get up-to-date with their COVID-19 vaccinations and get their booster as soon as they can, but don’t forget that the other measures still matter.
“We have seen how amazing you have been in choosing to look after each other by testing regularly, wearing face coverings in shops and on public transport, handwashing, opening windows if you’re socialising inside and keeping a safe distance, and these things could not be more important to do.”
If you have symptoms, including a new continuous cough, high temperature or loss or change in your sense of smell or taste, then stay at home and book a laboratory-processed PCR test by ringing: 119 or visiting: www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test
For information about testing visit: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk/c19testing
Image: Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, celebrates the testing milestone with Debbie Moore, who has worked at the no-symptoms testing centre at Stanney Oaks Leisure Centre, in Ellesmere Port since it opened last December.