A total of 195 coronavirus tests have been carried out at a temporary testing centre in the city in just two days.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council set up the temporary site in a self-contained, separate area of Fenton Manor Sports Complex on Monday and Tuesday to boost capacity for testing in the city and to support local residents.
Appointments were made available in five-minute slots during the day, but it has emerged that 24 people failed to show up.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We took the issue into our own hands by opening our own facility because national testing arrangements haven’t been good enough for people in our city. We know that demand for coronavirus tests is extremely high nationally and we want to help ensure that as many people as possible can get tested locally, if they have symptoms.
“It has been fantastic to see so many people take advantage of the tests and they will be receiving their results very shortly. However, it is extremely disappointing that people who had booked tests failed to show up. It beggars belief that people would do this considering the critical shortage of tests and how serious an issue the response to the coronavirus is. Thankfully we built capacity into our testing arrangements so that we could re-use the time slots that were wasted, and some people who failed to show for their appointment on Monday were able to be tested on Tuesday, after our teams contacted them. A number of medical professionals and children were also able to be tested in these slots.
“The temporary testing facilities have now moved to Burton today and tomorrow, and will be in Stafford on Friday. We, together with colleagues at Staffordshire County Council and the NHS, are monitoring how the facilities are used for the rest of the week and considering if we can reintroduce them again next week.”
The facilities are in addition to the regional testing centre at Stoke City FC, which is run nationally. Residents can still book at test at the football ground by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
Meanwhile, the council is advising pubs and clubs to continue to follow social distancing and public health guidance and residents are also reminded of their responsibilities under the new ‘rule of six’ guidelines.
Councillor Brown said: “Our trading standards teams have been out visiting venues across the city and it is really important that they continue to follow the national guidance. We’re urging visitors to pubs and clubs to continue to be sensible too: if you have a concern about a venue you are visiting, you can make a conscious decision not to go in. Report your concerns so that we and other responsible authorities can follow-up and take the appropriate action.
“The ‘rule of six’ came into force on Monday to limit the number of people meeting in social gatherings to six. Hospitality venues are adapting their arrangements to ensure customers can comply with the new rules. However, it is the customer’s responsibility to follow the arrangements at the venue, and they – and not the venue – will commit an offence if they do not.”
Under the rule of six guidelines, the police can issue on the spot fines of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.
Meanwhile, schools and families are being thanked for their continued hard work through difficult circumstances as the new school year continues. All 89 primary, secondary and special schools in the city opened at the start of the academic year earlier this month, and remain open.
Councillor Brown said: “Schools have put in place really robust plans for the safe return to the classroom and each school is responsible for its own arrangements. We’re extremely pleased and proud with the way that schools and families have responded.
“Our most up-to-date figures today on the number of pupils in school who have been affected by coronavirus cases is 131, just 0.4 per cent of our total school population across the city. This is not the number of pupils who have contracted the virus, but includes those who have come into contact with people who have tested positive and are self-isolating as a result.
“The number is low and is subject to change on a daily basis, and we know that the coronavirus is a cause of concern. But schools and families should take some comfort in the fact that the number is so low because of the very responsible steps they are taking and continue to take.
“We’ll do all that we can to make sure that people are clear on what they need to know and I’ll be writing to parents and schools again this week on the issue. We’re continuing to work through new national guidance on prioritising coronavirus testing and what this means for children. We remind ”
For more information and advice on the coronavirus (Covid-19) please visit Public Health England:
https://publichealthmatters.blog.gov.uk/2020/01/23/wuhan-novel-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ and the NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/.
All residents are reminded about the critical importance of regular handwashing with soap and hot water for 20 seconds. The significance of this action cannot be underestimated. If residents have symptoms, please get tested. All residents must continue to follow the guidance of wash hands, cover face and make space.
For more information on digital services, visit www.stoke.gov.uk, download the MyStoke App, or follow the city council’s social media channels.