Mandy Clarkson, Consultant in Public Health Nottingham City Council, gave an update on the Local Testing Strategy, with a focus on community and workforce asymptomatic testing. She highlighted the following information:
a) The asymptomatic testing programme is focused on providing testing for those people who are unable to work from home. It is not a replacement for the standard measures of social distancing, wearing a face covering and hand washing.
b) Apart from the national programmes, asymptomatic testing can only take place at testing sites and is not available for home use.
c) There two pathways for asymptomatic testing: institutional testing and community testing.
d) Institutional testing is a nationally-led programme for large organisations with a workforce of over 50 people. There has been feedback that the requirements are onerous and can be difficult for relatively small businesses to manage and therefore this pathway is best suited for large organisations.
e) Community testing is carried out at local community testing sites. Local authorities have been asked to focus community testing on population groups at higher risk or groups that are less likely to get tested. The first such site opened in the City at Djanogly Leisure Centre on 20 January. Accessing testing at such sites is more suitable for small businesses, self-employed people and sole traders etc.
f) Anyone in the City can get tested at Djanogly Leisure Centre. It is open 9:30am to 6:30pm Monday to Friday and 9:30am to 2:30pm on Saturday.
g) There are currently four community testing sites in Nottinghamshire County and more are planned. City residents can get tested at a site in the County if that is more accessible for them.
h) There was initially a slow start to testing at Djanogly Leisure Centre, possibly due to levels of awareness and understanding about what was available. So far testing at the site has identified 17 people with the virus who might not otherwise have been identified. Early evidence shows that the site is reaching those people who have been targeted: 81% of those attending are employed (the most common sectors are Nottingham City Council, education and manufacturing); and 25% of those attending live in the NG5 postcode area. For those whose ethnicity is recorded, 16% attending are from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. Of those attending for a second test, 68% plan to get tested regularly.
i) In addition to the community testing site at Djanogly Leisure Centre, the first vulnerable user setting opened on 25 January at London Road Hostel. A similar approach will be extended to other settings soon.
j) The next steps in the programme are to extend community testing sites to Clifton, the Meadows and Top Valley/ Bestwood. The location of sites is informed by demographic information and data about positivity rates. Four other testing sites in Nottinghamshire County are also planned.
k) Local businesses are also being supported to test their own workforce where they can or encourage employees to access the community testing network.
During subsequent discussion the following points were raised:
l) Before people leave the testing centre they are told what to do if their test is positive. In a recent change, people are no longer required to get a confirmatory test, a positive test now means that they must self-isolate. A positive test also triggers the NHS Test and Trace process.