Residents of a Corby housing estate will face a weekend of intensive door-to-door Covid testing in an attempt to tackle the stubbornly high rates of coronavirus.
In a ramping up of community testing procedures, a team of volunteers will take to the streets of the Beanfield estate - a ward with low testing rates but high case rates.
The Covid taskforce team, including police officer and council employee volunteers, have been mobilised by Lucy Wightman Joint Director of Public Health - North and West Northamptonshire Councils.
She said: "This pilot, initially in Beanfield, is taking place in advance of re-opening of large sectors of the economy on April 12 and aims to ensure the residents of Corby can take the next step on the government’s ‘roadmap’ as safely as possible.
“Corby has for some months now had among the highest case rates for lower tier local authorities in England and this is part of a host of activities which we have organised to curb the spread and test our surge plans locally.
“One in three people with COVID-19 won’t have any symptoms and so could unintentionally pass it on to others so testing, particularly for those who don’t have symptoms, really is a vital part of our armoury in getting the Corby rates down lower and keeping them there, as restrictions ease further next week.
“Despite a drop in the past week Corby still has high case rates. But recent higher rates of testing are helping to find positive cases, which means that more people are self-isolating and transmission is reducing.
“There is great value in door-to-door testing because evidence suggests that only around 1 in 5 (22 per cent) of people who have Covid-19 symptoms choose to get tested for Covid-19 and a further 1/3 of Covid-19 cases will be in people who have no symptoms.
“I am hopeful that testing programmes such as this will help bring rates down even further. Please take the test if you are offered one.”
Each household in Beanfield will be offered testing kits in a bid to reduce case and transmission rates prior to further easing of restrictions. The pilot also provides the council with an opportunity to test its surge capacity plans - a key part of the public health response to spikes in cases, or variants of concern, should they arise in the future.
Beanfield has been identified for this pilot as it is an area with high rates of cases, yet low rates of testing.
Corby's Covid case rates have topped the table for England since February with the case rate falling, but still the highest in the country.
Yesterday, (Thursday) the Corby case rate dropped to 116 cases per 100,000 residents reported over seven days - the second week of January it had peaked at 1,106 in 100,000.
Organised by the Public Health team at North Northamptonshire Council, trained volunteers will be knocking on all household doors between 10am and 4pm on Saturday, April 10 and Sunday, April 11 to talk to residents about coronavirus and offer free testing options, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.
Households will be offered either PCR test kits or Rapid Lateral Flow Test kits.
The PCR test are for those people with any of the three main coronavirus symptoms; a high temperature, continuous cough or loss of or change in sense of smell or taste.
The Lateral Flow Tests are for those who don’t have these symptoms and are an effective way to test if you are infectious, without having symptoms. All kits will have instructions for how to correctly swab and complete the self-tests.
All volunteers will carry ID and wear PPE and high visibility jackets. They will drop test kits off as they call door-to-door to each household and return later to collect the completed PCR test kits. The LFT kits will not need collection as test processing happens within the home. Information on what to do with each type of kit is provided on an easy-to-follow leaflet.
Those testing positive during the pilot process will be required to isolate as per national guidance, and subject to eligibility, can access support to do so by North Northamptonshire Council Click here for more information regarding social isolation support, food packages, medication deliveries and financial support.
If residents are out at the time the volunteers call, a leaflet will be dropped through their letterbox detailing when and when they can get a test. Free Covid-19 testing is available to everyone, with or without coronavirus symptoms.
Those without symptoms, who don’t currently get tested through their workplaces or as part of a school or childcare support bubble, can book a test at one of the two sites in Corby - Lodge Park Sports Centre, Shetland Way Tuesday to Saturday from 8am to 12 noon and 3pm to 7pm, or Hazelwood Neighbourhood Centre, Gainsborough Rd which is open Monday to Friday 3pm to 6.45pm. Anyone showing any Covid-19 symptoms must not attend sites but book a PCR test by calling 119 or booking a test online.