A total of 95 more people had coronavirus tests at Fenton Manor Sports Complex in two days, and city leaders say this demonstrates that the facility is helping to meet demand from residents.
The local testing centre, run by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, with support from the NHS and other partners, opened on Monday and Tuesday this week (28 and 29 September), for the third week in a row. The authority had made arrangements to double the number of swab tests available across the two days from 200 to 400, after high demand for tests in the previous weeks saw all appointments booked up within half an hour of becoming available. The tests were only for people who are symptomatic and who had already tried but not been able to get a test through the national system.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “Thankfully the coronavirus infection rate in our city is currently lower than other areas of the country such as the north west, and this is because of the good work by residents in continuing to follow the public health advice. However, the number of cases in the city is still increasing.
“We doubled the capacity at Fenton Manor this week based on demand because our first concern is in ensuring that residents have more opportunities to be tested. We know that there has been clear demand for swabs – in previous weeks all tests were booked within half an hour of becoming available. The number of tests at the Stoke City FC South Car Park site has increased again this week, which is good news and we instructed people to book at this facility first before trying our local arrangements. I am pleased that we have had the capacity at Fenton Manor and have been able to act to meet the demand.
“We moved quickly to put local people first because the national arrangements have not been good enough. We have boosted capacity so that people have a local option and don’t have to go to Belfast or Warrington or Derby or elsewhere to be tested. Our arrangements are also to better support people without cars, and is based on local needs.
“If we are able to secure more tests next week – and we hope that we can continue to operate this facility until capacity within the national system has shown improvements consistently – we want people to tell us if they can’t make their appointment – details of how to cancel are issued on the test email confirmation.
“We also want the support of government in helping us to continue to make local arrangements for testing – the more local testing we carry out, the better our knowledge is of the local situation and context because we get more data on positive and negative tests more quickly that we can analyse for trends.”
Meanwhile workers are being urged not to car share on their journeys to and from work wherever possible. It comes as the authority is concerned about the risk of transmission within family groups and those living in close proximity to each other who car share and work at a local employer.
Councillor Brown said: “We continue to be proactive in carrying out our own analysis of coronavirus cases, working in conjunction with the national Test and Trace programme. Through this local working, knowledge and data analysis, we are concerned about the risk of spreading the infection through car sharing.
“We’re working closely with employers, especially larger ones, on this, and companies have in place safety measures to ensure their workplaces are Covid-19 compliant.
“But our message is clear: don’t car share where you do not have too. Where possible, walk or cycle to work. If you do have to car share, share the transport with the same people each time, ask your employer if it is possible that your car share group can be on the same shift pattern. Do not overcrowd the vehicle – maintain as much distance between occupants as possible. Open the windows for ventilation, wear a face covering, clean/sanitise the car between journeys, pay particular attention to touch points including door handles inside and outside, seatbelts, the steering wheel, gear change levers and indicator levers.
“We all need to support our local employers by protecting ourselves while away from work and during the daily commute.”
Meanwhile, Stoke Library will be the latest site to allow customers to browse and borrow books in person again when it opens its doors from Monday, October 5.
From next week, visitors can come into the building without an appointment and choose items from the shelves. They will also be able to use a public computer for up to one hour per day, as well as the photocopier and printer.
Libraries in Longton, Meir and Tunstall started the same ‘open access’ service from Monday, September 21.
The changes are part of a phased reopening of Stoke-on-Trent libraries. This follows the successful Click, Call and Collect service, which was launched in July to allow customers to order books online or over the phone – then collect during an allotted time.
Libraries will have a range of covid-secure measures in place so customers can use the sites safely. This includes:
- Face coverings required unless exempt;
- Hand sanitiser provided;
- NHS Test and Trace forms;
- Sanitising equipment at computer stations;
- The number of computer stations is reduced to maintain social distancing;
- A one-way system;
- All returned books quarantined for 72 hours;
- Opening hours temporarily reduced to allow time for more cleaning.
For the time being, there is no access to meeting rooms, study spaces, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs or public toilets in libraries.
The successful Click, Call and Collect service will continue for now at City Central and Bentilee libraries, as well as the open access sites.
The city council will provide more details on plans for other Stoke-on-Trent libraries when they are available.
For more information, including opening times and details on becoming a member and borrowing e-books, e-audiobooks and e-magazines online, visit www.stoke.gov.uk/libraries.
The council is also reminding visitors that the fun pool at Dimensions Leisure Centre is due to reopen from Friday (1 October) with strict covid-secure measures in place to help to keep families safe.
In line with national government guidelines, the popular attraction in Burslem is allowed to welcome visitors again for the first time since the national lockdown.
The site has something for all visitors to enjoy – fantastic pool, rapids, fountains and a 65-metre dragon slide.
All guests must pre-book and pay for their session in advance by calling Dimensions on 01782 233101 (available 9am – 9pm, Monday – Friday; and 9am – 5pm on Saturday and Sunday). Those who have not booked in advance will not be allowed in.
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.