Leaders across Lincolnshire have welcomed plans to introduce mass testing in Lincoln and Boston in the fight against coronavirus.
The government confirmed the locations — which have had two of the highest infection rates across England in the past few weeks — in a list of 17 new areas to offer community testing.
The aim of the mass community testing is to slow down the spread of the virus by detecting it early, as well as seek out the new variant.
Scientists have confirmed at least two swabs of the new COVID mutation have been taken in Lincolnshire so far.
Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock is due to update the nation on the latest news at 3pm.
Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill said the news was a “massive boost” for the county and would use local knowledge and expertise to “tackle areas of the greatest need”.
“It builds on the work we have been doing throughout the county with mobile testing units established to provide testing for people who have symptoms,” he said.
“It will also build on the testing availability we’ve developed in Lincoln and Boston.
The plans, however, have yet to be finalised, and it is unclear:
- How the testing will take place. It is not confirmed if people will be sought directly or will have to apply to take part once zones are declared
- Where the testing will take place. Each location has existing testing sites, but it is not clear if these will be used or further facilities built
- When testing will actually begin. We know it’s in the new year but when exactly is unclear
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, the leader of City of Lincoln Council said it was “crucial to reducing the number of positive cases in Lincoln”.
“By increasing the amount of testing done we can identify more people who do not have coronavirus symptoms, but who are infectious and unknowingly spreading the disease to others,” he said.
“We will work with partners to help safely and effectively implement the scheme and I ask that everyone contacted plays their part by taking a test.”
Leader of Boston Borough Council, Councillor Paul Skinner, said testing was likely to commence early in the New Year.
“The focus in Boston is now to identify a number of suitable and appropriately located testing locations.
He said once details were confirmed they would be “communicated to the community”.
The testing will target areas of high prevalence, and all people in those zones will be tested whether they have symptoms or not.
Testing will involve offering people taking a lateral flow test through the usual nose swabbing.
Councillors said the tests are safe and free, taking less than 15 minutes to administer and with a result in under an hour.
A further PCR test will take place if the swab comes back positive with results given in 24 hours.
“Targeting key areas will maximise the public health benefit of community testing, hitting those areas that need it most and where infection rates are high.
“It will help us to take detailed histories of confirmed positive cases and follow up close contacts and offer tests to them,” said Councillor Hill.