08/12/2020 - Covid19 rapid testing launched in Luton
Luton Council is encouraging residents and people who work in the town, who do not have Covid-19 symptoms to come forward and take a new rapid lateral flow test which can provide results within 45 minutes.
Community-wide Covid-19 testing will be launched this Thursday, 10 December, as a pilot which is being delivered in partnership with the council and NHS Test and Trace and is part of the government’s continuing drive to increase the availability of testing.
Two ‘walk-in’ rapid test centres have been set up at Lewsey Community Centre, Landrace Road and Farley Community Centre, Delphine Close, which the public can access from 8am-8pm, seven days a week. You do not need to book an appointment, just turn up.
Residents will need to self-administer the test by applying a cotton bud to the back of their throat up and then up their nose. They will then return the swab to an operator at the test centre rather than it being sent to a lab to be processed. Individuals will receive their results by text or email within 45 minutes.
Lateral flow tests are a new kind of technology that can be used to test a higher number of people who have Covid-19 but are not displaying any symptoms. This will help us identify and isolate more people who are at high likelihood of spreading the virus, and therefore break the chains of transmission.
As rapid tests are a new method of testing any resident who gets a positive result will be advised to immediately self-isolate, along with anyone who they live with. They will need to order a Covid-19 home test kit online or call 119, to confirm they have the virus.
Residents who do not have any other support they can access and need help while self-isolating should view our coronavirus support webpage which provides details of a number of organisations and group who can provide assistance or they can call 01582 548955. Individuals may also be eligible for the £500 Test and Trace Support payment.
People who test negative will still need to follow current national rules and guidelines recommended for stopping the spread of the virus including the tier 2 restrictions of not meeting socially with anyone they don’t live with (or in a support bubble) in any indoor setting along with washing hands frequently, social distancing measures and wearing face coverings when required. You can find more details of what you can and can’t do in tier 2 .
The council is also training teams to carry out targeted outreach testing focusing on those who are high risk either of contracting the virus or transmitting it, such as people working in health, educational or care settings.
Lucy Hubber, Director of Public Health (Interim), said: “This has been a huge logistical challenge and everyone has been pulling out all the stops to get everything in place to ensure we can safely and efficiently test as many people as we possibly can. For the past few days, the rapid test centre has been operating on a trial basis with selected individuals and their family members who are showing no symptoms being given the opportunity to be tested.
“As many as one in three people with Covid-19 have no symptoms, so testing in this manner presents an opportunity to identify cases of coronavirus that would otherwise be missed. Our trial has already revealed some positive cases, so we are confident that rapid testing will be an essential tool in terms of better understanding the transmission of cases in our community.”
Cllr Khtija Malik, Portfolio Holder with responsibility for public health said: “The more people we test, the more likely we are to slow the spread of coronavirus and the sooner life in Luton can return to normal. So please don’t hesitate to come and get tested, you could save a life.
“Case rates in Luton are still very high so please remember you are not allowed to meet socially with people you don’t live with, apart from your support bubble, in any indoor setting including homes, restaurants and shopping centres. I also want to remind residents that they must continue to stick to four golden rules: wash your hands frequently, wear face coverings, keep a two-metre distance and self-isolate if you have symptoms. If we all continue to work together we can keep our loved ones and community safe.”
Baroness Dido Harding, Interim Executive Chair of the National Institute for Health Protection, said: “NHS Test and Trace continues to play a leading role in the fight against COVID-19 with over 43 million tests processed so far.
“The work of Luton Council and their partners will be essential in helping us explore the benefits of new technology in lateral flow testing.
“This pilot is one of many which will lay the foundations for the next phase of NHS Test and Trace – mass testing - which will allow us to test even more people, even more quickly.”
The council has received 10,000 tests so far and will be able to reorder new tests up to a maximum of 10 per cent of the town’s population each week.
A third test centre will be available to the public in Luton Central Library from 21 December.
Luton’s other test sites at Hockwell Ring Community Centre, Bury Park Community Centre, Vicarage Road and at the airport continue to operate for anyone with Covid-19 symptoms (a new continuous cough, or a high temperature or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste). Book a standard Covid-19 test at one of these sites via the NHS website visit or call 119.
For more details view our webpage.