March 19, 2021 10.52 am This story is over 15 months old

Church halls and pubs: New rapid testing sites explored

Focus moving to asymptomatic testing

Churches and pubs could be turned into collection sites for coronavirus home testing kits as the focus switches more to detecting asymptomatic cases.

The testing sites at the Lincolnshire Showground and Richmond Drive Coach Park in Skegness have already moved to offer just half day of full-COVID tests and then operate as a lateral flow test collection site in the afternoon as part of the national schools programme.

But Lincolnshire’s health bosses are now looking at a more local testing set-up over the next couple of weeks utilising existing sites such as Sincil Bank stadium in Lincoln, as well as potential new ones.

Professor Derek Ward, director for public health at Lincolnshire County Council, said the number would depend on the needs of the community, but explained: “We’re going to have a really good coverage map across the county of people being able to go relatively locally.

“We hope, between four and six miles will be the farthest anybody will need to travel to be able to go and pick up a pack, but that’s subject to us getting supply from central government, which is a bit of a sticking point to them.”

He added: “We are looking at whether we want to use church halls or pubs that that are still closed but, of course, as they open that becomes less viable.

“As the roll-out of the vaccine happens, it’s a balance because we don’t want to offer them everywhere, and put a huge amount of resource and costing, if actually people only want five or six sites dotted around the county, so we’ve got to gauge what the what the interest is.”

More than 130,000 tests were carried out last week, with a huge chunk due to returning school pupils.

There have been more than 620 cases confirmed so far this week.

Professor Ward confirmed there were some cases in schools and care homes, but said the majority continued to be in working age people with talks still ongoing with government about how to tackle those figures.

Lincolnshire’s infection rate sits around 85 per 100,000 population, compared to England’s 60, with nearly 130,000 tests having now been carried out.