23 Jul Coronavirus: ‘No more than 30-minute walk to get COVID-19 test’ as hundreds more sites set to open | UK News
Hundreds of new coronavirus testing sites are set to open across England as the government prepares for a possible surge in cases this winter.
The government wants people living in large towns and cities to be within a half an hour walk of a coronavirus testing site by the end of October.
Hundreds of venues are being set up across the country based on how easy it is to push a buggy to one.
NHS Test and Trace is also recruiting more staff so it can scale up to meet a potential rise in demand in the colder months.
Experts have warned the government about a potential second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.
England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty told MPs on Tuesday: “A surge in winter is a really serious concern looking forward and where I spend most of my thinking time.”
The virus has been found to spread more easily indoors, and during the winter months people will be spending more time at home with less ventilation from open windows, worrying medical experts.
It comes as data revealed the NHS Test and Trace service is not reaching an effective number of people who may have contracted coronavirus in places with higher infection rates.
Despite promising to publish full regional data, the government has not yet done so.
In Leicester, which was the first major city to be placed into a local lockdown, the service only managed to contact 65% of people, meaning 3,300 people had not been reached by the service.
The figure was 54% in Blackburn with Darwen, which has implemented some preventative measures to try and avoid a local lockdown, while in Rochdale it was 66%.
In Luton, which has asked for more people to get themselves tested, the rate is reportedly even lower at 40%, according to The Guardian.
The advice from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) is that the figure should be at least 80% for the system to be effective.
Data also shows that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to have all in-person tests turned around within 24 hours is not being met.
The number of people getting their COVID-19 test result back within a day fell for a second week running.
Around 71% of people had their test result back in 24 hours in the week ending 15 July, down significantly on the previous week’s rate of almost 88%.
Since the launch of Test and Trace, 169,546 close contacts of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 have been reached through the system and asked to self-isolate.