Plans have already been drawn up and military support is in place to enable community testing to start in Derbyshire from the 21 December. The testing will be for people who do not have symptoms and will enable Derbyshire’s Public Health team to understand the prevalence of people who are infected but without symptoms, support those who have Covid to self-isolate and to drive infection rates down further in the county.
Testing will begin in Swadlincote in South Derbyshire with Bolsover and Amber Valley to follow shortly afterwards. The details of locations will be worked through with the military team over the coming days.
In mid to late January and February testing is also expected to be carried out in Bakewell and Chesterfield. In phase 3, from March onwards, community testing will target areas with outbreaks or rising infection rates including workplaces and schools.
Alongside the test people will be offered advice and help with financial support that they may be entitled to if they need to self-isolate and wider benefits.
Dean Wallace, Director of Public Health at Derbyshire County Council, said local people are at the heart of the council’s approach to community testing:
“We put ourselves forward to be one of the first areas in the country to deliver community testing because we want to improve life for Derbyshire people. By pressing ahead with this - despite the significant logistical challenges of finding locations for test sites, staff and equipment and the council effectively providing a whole new service – we can help people in Derbyshire to protect themselves and their loved ones and drive down infection rates.
“Community testing has a big role to play in driving infection rates down but it only works as part of a whole suite of measures including effective contact tracing, following the guidance around socialising and self isolation and the roll-out of the vaccine.
“Getting tested doesn’t mean people can stop social distancing, wearing masks or washing their hands, but it does help to make the activities they are undertaking safer.
“People who come to be tested will be given one of the rapid lateral flow tests which give results in about 15 minutes. If they test positive they will then be given a further test to confirm the result.
“By getting tested, even if you don’t have symptoms, you are doing the right thing and ultimately helping people to stay well, businesses to stay open, children to stay in school and hospitals to have the capacity to treat other illness like cancer. As a resident of Derbyshire I call on everyone who has the opportunity to get a test to take it, be part of this and keep showing that amazing Derbyshire spirit.”
Barry Lewis, Leader of Derbyshire County Council said:
“This is a huge step forward for Derbyshire and an opportunity for us to bring down infection rates in the county and move into the lower tiers of restriction that give us more freedoms.
“More people getting tests doesn’t result in it being more likely that we will stay in tier 3. The Government looks at a wide range of factors when deciding on tier placement including infection rates and not the raw number of positive tests.
“This, along with the outstanding contact tracing work we have championed here in Derbyshire, will help us to make the most of the vaccine when it comes and move toward a future where Covid doesn’t dominate our lives. This testing programme will help rather than hinder us.
“I know that some people will be disappointed that Community Testing isn’t available in their area immediately. Derbyshire is a huge county, unlike centralised cities like Liverpool, and we need a phased approach to make this work. We have a range of other testing opportunities open to us and will be looking at how they can be used to increase capacity in those areas not initially covered by community testing.”
Other established methods of testing for people with symptoms will continue alongside community testing and people who have a high temperature, continuous cough or have lost their sense of small or taste should book a test online in the usual way.
Details of the community testing sites and how people can attend them will be released shortly.